Gender and causal concepts: Implications for comparative theory building
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SourcePolitics and Gender, 12, 3, (2016), article E7
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
Politics and Gender
SubjectInequality, cohesion and modernization; Ongelijkheid, cohesie en modernisering
Clear conceptualization should be at the core of every comparative study. Gender scholars have a long history of challenging the public/private divide in conventional notions of the political and laying bare the gendered or androcentric character of established concepts such as welfare states (Sainsbury 2008), war (Goldstein 2001), work (Spierings 2015), or democracy (Paxton 2008; Walby 2009). This criticism often focuses on descriptive and normative meanings (see Goertz 2006, 3). It is descriptive where concepts seek to describe units of analysis such as countries and their levels of democracy and normative because the criticism shows how concepts legitimize androcentric practices. Comparative scholars, however, tend to go one step beyond descriptive comparisons; we seek to explain cross-national variation - for example, why certain countries are democratic, why certain welfare state policies are implemented, or why war occurs. This relates to the relatively new notions of "causal concepts" (Goertz 2006) and the "causal relationship guideline" (Goertz and Mazur 2008).
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