Special session / Séance spéciale
Session: Q2 - Presidential Address/Discours présidentiel
Participants & Authors/Auteurs: (Click titles for Abstract and Paper.)
Jill Vickers (Carleton University) : Can We Change How Political Science Thinks? ‘Gendering’ a Resistant Discipline Through Inclusion, Paradigm Shifts or a ‘Copernican Revolution’
Abstract: This text considers how women’s increased participation over the past half century has affected the way political science thinks. In the Anglo-American democracies which are the focus of the text, women went from about 10 percent of political science faculty on average in the 1970s to about 30 percent on average today. Moreover, in recent decades robust subfields of feminist political science have developed. But despite these developments, there has been surprisingly little change in how the conventional discipline thinks about politics. The goal of this text is to explain this puzzling pattern.
The text outlines a number of incompatible theoretical and methodological features of conventional and feminist political science that obstruct the incorporation of feminist ideas and gender knowledge into the discipline’s paradigm. These incompatibilities include: conflicting definitions of ‘politics’, conceptions of power and methodological views. Obstructive features of the conventional discipline include: its ‘ontological maleness’ and intolerance of theoretical and methodological diversity. Problematic features of feminist political science include its overly broad definition of the political, its attraction to interdisciplinary knowledge projects and its suspicion of quantification.
The text explains how the confederal and polycentric nature of political science makes the usual type of paradigm change of a whole discipline virtually impossible. But it also shows how it was these same characteristics that enabled the development of new sub-fields and can foster paradigmatic shifts in individual fields, leaving other sub-disciplines virtually unchanged. This suggests possible strategies for incremental change including the creation of bridge-building frameworks.
Introduction: Cheryl Collier (University of Windsor)
Words of Thanks/Mots de remerciement: Peter 'Jay' Smith (Athabasca University)