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Reclaiming party politics research

Response to Anika Gauja and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen. 2021. Decline, adaptation and relevance: political parties and their researchers in the twentieth century. European Political Science 20(1):123–38

Abstract

In a 2021 Special Issue in European Political Science, Anika Gauja and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen review the sub-field of party politics research. In doing so, they argue party politics scholarship reflects the broader development of the political science discipline, illustrating the evolving relationship between politics researchers and the organisations they study. In this reply, we argue that the party politics sub-field reflects the wider discipline in another crucial respect—it continues to marginalise gender politics scholarship. We demonstrate that a gendered lens fundamentally transforms key questions in the field around what party politics scholars study, and how and why they conduct their research, with relevant consequences for whose work is included. In failing to engage with this scholarship, “mainstream” party politics scholars are (re)producing unequal power relations and hierarchies within the discipline, while also depriving themselves of the capacity to address fully key questions of representation, democracy, continuity and change.

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Notes

  1. While the article title of Gauja and Kosiara-Pedersen’s (2021) suggests a focus on the twentieth century, the article itself focuses on the past 20 years of political party research.

  2. Women or gender equality is also included as response options in two variables (party support group and mobilisation issues, respectively).

  3. Here, we echo the arguments of van Biezen and Saward (2008: 21), who make a similar argument with regard to the lack of dialogue between political party scholars and normative democratic theorists.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Ingrid van Biezen, Holger Döring, Nils Düpont and Paul Bederke for their constructive comments on earlier drafts and sections of this paper, as well as the Editors of European Political Science for their helpful feedback.

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Kenny, M., Bjarnegård, E., Lovenduski, J. et al. Reclaiming party politics research. Eur Polit Sci 21, 274–291 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-022-00362-0

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Keywords

  • Political parties
  • Gender politics
  • Feminist institutionalism
  • Political science
  • Power
  • Representation