Category Archives: Politics/State/Nationalism

Explaining Trump

By Claude S. Fischer

Explaining how such an unfit candidate and such a bizarre candidacy succeeded has become a critical concern for journalists and scholars. Through sites like Monkey Cage, Vox, and 538, as well as academic papers, we can watch political scientists in real time try to answer the question, “What the Hell Happened?” (There are already at least two catalogs of answers, here and here, and a couple of college-level Trump syllabi.) Although a substantial answer will not emerge for years, this post is my own morning-after answer to the “WTHH?” question.

I make three arguments: First, Trump’s electoral college victory was a fluke, a small accident with vast implications, but from a social science perspective not very interesting. Second, the deeper task is to understand who were the distinctive supporters for Trump, in particular to sort out whether their support was rooted mostly in economic or in cultural grievances; the evidence suggests cultural. Third, party polarization converted Trump’s small and unusual personal base of support into 46 percent of the popular vote. Continue reading

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Get out & vote, please. We did. Did you? vote

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Tokyo’s First Female Governor and Japan’s Glass Ceiling

By Kumiko Nemoto


Yuriko Koike, a former Japanese defense minister, became the first woman elected governor of Tokyo. The recent New York Times article “Breaking Japan’s Glass Ceiling, but Leaving Some Feminists Unconvinced” reported that voting for her, regardless of one’s political views, would be a revolutionary act because there are few women at the top in Japan. However, the article also noted that some Japanese feminists have expressed disagreement with Koike because of her conservatism.

In the election, some Japanese feminists opposed Koike for her conservatism and for being a right-wing militarist, and instead explicitly supported the male candidate, Shintaro Torigoe, who lacked an effective campaign and ironically struggled with an allegation of sexual assault by a female college student. Some also believe that Koike lacks enthusiasm about improving women’s social status. A subset of feminists in Japan also tend to be more concerned about issues confronting working-class women than those facing women in high positions.

Koike is known to be a core member of, or has had deep ties to, the nationalistic right-wing cult Nippon Kaigi (or Japan Conference), which has 38,000 members and is said to have, among its aims, the restoration of the status of the emperor; keeping women in the home; reducing Western notions of rights and equality; beefing up the military; removing the pacifist section from the Constitution; rewriting textbooks to follow a right-wing agenda; and rejecting Japan’s war crimes and sexual slavery comfort women. However, little is known about the group’s actual activities and degree of political influence. Continue reading

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A Cornerstone for Equality: Focusing on Women’s Global Political Empowerment

By Amy Alexander, Catherine Bolzendahl, & Farida Jalalzai

Since the mid-1990s, nations’ adoption of some form of quotas for women’s representation in national parliaments has swept the globe; more than 100 countries have a constitutional, legislative or party policy commitment to this. This is a powerful sign of the dramatic change in global formal commitments to gains in women’s political empowerment. Yet, simultaneously, nowhere do women hold equal power to men in influencing and exercising political authority worldwide. This story of recent gains and resilient barriers plays out daily in our news, and for good reason. These are all threads of a compelling story of women’s global political empowerment, a story that nearly universally begins with profound discrimination against women. Thus the recent world transformation, at least in formal commitments to women’s global political empowerment, can no longer be ignored and at the same time demands deeper inquiry into its promise and limits.

The UN has declared women’s empowerment as the third of its Millennium Development Goals. Within this broad charter, political empowerment is one of a variety of areas, often less fully articulated and studied in comparison to economic indicators. Yet, gains in women’s political empowerment directly decrease the role of gender inequality as an obstacle to incorporation as social and economic equals, and open, rather than close, the political domain to all members of society. Continue reading

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One Nation Under (Women’s) Soccer?

by Rachel Allison

At the end of February, Fox Sports released a new set of advertisements for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Marking the 100-day countdown to the summer tournament, the new video commercial consoles fans of last year’s men’s World Cup with the prospect of renewed American sports victory. Continue reading


Filed under Media & Communications, Politics/State/Nationalism, Sport/Leisure

An American in Jakarta

by Rachel Rinaldo

A million people marched through the center of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. It was late March 2003, and they were protesting the American invasion of Iraq. As a graduate student doing research on women’s activism in the world’s largest Muslim country, I eagerly followed on the sidelines.  Continue reading

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Filed under Collective Action & Social Movements, Global/Transnational, Politics/State/Nationalism, Qualitative Methodology

Who’s Working in “Women’s Interests”?: Understanding Legislatures as Gendered Organizations

by Catherine Bolzendahl

A good chunk of work, my own included, suggests that electing more women to legislature matters for policy outcomes. Mostly, we’ve argued that it’s because women care more about issues seen as being in “women’s interests,” either because women have been socialized to care more about these issues, they face these issues more directly in their day-to-day lives, and/or that others (constituents/coworkers) expect women to care more. No doubt these processes are at work, but these explanations aren’t fully satisfying. They tend to focus on individuals, reify gender stereotypes, and don’t really help us make sense of other findings, especially in the U.S., that women legislators may have fairly little impact on policy outcomes. Continue reading

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Filed under Comparative/Crossnational, Politics/State/Nationalism, Work & Organizations

Differing Feminine Ideals in Various Sectors of Vietnam’s Sex Industry

by Kimberly Hoang

Hoang_image1_August 2014One evening during my months of fieldwork in various strata of Ho Chi Ming City’s (HCMC) sex industry, a young woman returned to work after obtaining a rhinoplasty. With a bruised nose and along with strips of white bandages on her face, Diem’s nose became a spectacle among the male clients in the bar. Dong, a 60-year-old local Vietnamese businessman, explained to me: “When you bring in businessmen from Asia, you can say, ‘Look, this country is growing and developing so much that even the poorest village girls can afford to get plastic surgery.’ It shows them that we’re a nation that is growing very rapidly and there is a lot of potential in our market. [The women] represent Vietnam to the most important people, our investors!” Continue reading

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Neoliberal Mothering and Vaccine Refusal

by Jennifer A. Reich

“Thanks, Anti-Vaxxers. You Just Brought Back Measles in NYC. Measles was considered eliminated at the turn of the millennium. Now it’s back, thanks to the loons who refuse to vaccinate their children.”

This was the lead of a story this spring on the Daily Beast. Although this impassioned post communicates fear and frustration that accompany threats of vaccine-preventable infectious disease, it doesn’t accurately characterize the parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. In this study, published in October in Gender & Society, I interview mothers who reject recommended vaccines for their children, either by opting out completely, consenting to only a few, or reworking the schedule to meet their own preferences to understand how they make sense of the choice. These mothers care about their own children and aim to make the best decisions for them, which they believe requires questioning medical information, educating themselves from sources they see as more reliable (and independent from medical or public health sources), and actively managing their children’s lives. Continue reading


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When Migration Is Crisis, “It Is The Women Who Run Things”

by Abigail Andrews

In the Mexican village of San Miguel, Mexico, women’s effort to protect an alternative to living in the United States brought them to the center of local politics.

Until 1995, women in the Mixtec village of San Miguel, in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, were not permitted to engage in politics. On the contrary, despite San Miguel’s tradition of participatory self-governance, it was known for excluding women. While their husbands and fathers conducted civic affairs, women were expected to stay in the home. Yet, today, as one resident put it, “It is the women who run things.” In less than a decade, women, who previously could not even approach the town hall, came to be in charge of school committees, health committees, and government social programs – voting and voicing their opinions publicly for the first time. They did so in the context of mass migration to the United States. To understand the connection, I spent a year living in both San Miguel and among its migrants in the United States, and I conducted in depth interviews with more than 50 men and women, both in the home village and in the United States. I found that migration played a central role in driving women to take on these new roles. It did so not by inspiring them to echo US gender practices, but instead because they saw migration as a “crisis,” threatening their valued ways of life. Changing gender roles offered one way to respond. Continue reading

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