Gendered Mobilizations in an Expanding Europe

Together with Jill Irvine (University of Oklahoma) and Celeste Montoya (University of Colorado, Boulder) we have organized a set of conferences and panels and are working on an edited volume to investigate the long and ongoing challenge for social justice movements of how to address difference. Traditional strategies have often emphasized universalizing messages and common identities as means of facilitating collective action. While focusing on commonality can be an effective means of mobilization, its utility is limited in building a larger and enduring movement. Universalist messages that obscure difference can serve to exclude and marginalize groups in already precarious positions. Scholars and activist, particularly those located at the intersection of these movements, have long advocated for more inclusive approaches that acknowledge the significance and complexity of different social locations, with mixed success. With our collaboration, we want to contribute a more rigorous application of intersectional analysis to the study of gendered social movements in Europe.

German Unification as a Catalyst for Change: Linking Political Transformation at the Domestic and International Level

After the fall of the Wall, the master narrative of German unification centered on two ideas: The notion of a speedy political and economic unity on the one hand, and political assurances of continuity of West German institutional, economic and political culture on the other hand. However, twenty-five years later, most analysts concur that unification has not provided a singular, linear path to unity. Taking the catalyst function of unification as a starting point, I address together with my colleagues Joyce Mushaben (U Missouri, St. Louis) and UW DAAD Professor Frank Wendler both EU-level or international and domestic policy change and they identify linkages between them.

Women’s National and Transnational Advocacy in the European Union

Together with Henrike Knappe from the University of Lueneborg I investigate patterns of transnational advocacy among women’s movements in the UK, Germany, and on the EU level. European women’s NGOs have been crucial in mobilizing for women’s rights on the supranational and national level. We ask to what degree EU-level and nation-level women’s NGOs in Germany and the UK mobilize constituencies via online means.  We compare the density of networking and the public interaction profiles between transnational-level networks that reach into member states (in our case the network of the European Women’s Lobby), and nationally based NGO networks rooted more in respective nation-level social movement and advocacy cultures. Utilizing network mapping tools as well as original data collected from about 100 women’s NGOs on the EU level, in the UK, and Germany, we look at the density and distribution of relationships in these networks as well as their actual use of interactive communication means as indicators of their capacity to engage publics. We find that information-focused communication is overall more prevalent than interactive mobilization tools and that UK NGOs exhibit more public engagement features than either the EU level or Germany’s women’s NGOs.  We interpret the data as evidence of a more active women’s movement in the UK and as an indicator of lack of EU level outreach into member states communities of women.

Gender Equality in Politics and Practice (GEPP)

Together with my colleagues Birgit Sauer and Katja Chmilewski  (University of Vienna) and Petra Ahrens (University of Antwerp), I investigate the “gender quota gap” in Germany and austria: Although in both countries most parties have implemented party quotas for electoral lists, the share of women in national parliaments remains below the quota. Comparing state and substate effects of party quotas in the two major parties – social democrats and Christian conservatives -, we assess modes of compliance on the federal and Länder levels and stipulate that it is primarily the fine print of how electoral party lists are drafted and the electoral system itself that create deviations from set party quota policies. Candidate selection in the German mixed electoral system is compared to the Austrian proportional system as to their impact on female candidate selection and success. Moreover, different commitments to and levels of sanctions on the state and substate level and among parties contribute to uneven implementation in the German and Austrian federations.

Gender, Federalism, and Multilevel Governance

This project looks at the impact of federalist and multilevel governance structures on gender equality policies. Based on a previously funded study by the Austrian Jubilee Fund, my colleagues Professor Birgit Sauer and Ayse Dursun from the University of Vienna and I investigate to what degree multilevel entry points in the political process are advantageous for women’s equality activists in Austria and Germany. We are also part of a larger international cooperation of feminist federalism researchers called FINSA (Feminist Institutional Network on State Architecture).This project also investigates how the current challenges to cooperative federalism affect women’s policy agency and gender policies in the two countries and beyond.

The Role of NGOs in Community-Based Natural Resource Management

Together with Kate Crosman (UW) I investigate how NGOs influence community-based natural resource management. NGOs have been understood to be bridge builders, providing contexts for social learning and co-production of knowledge as well as inclusive participation by constituents. Alternately, they have been criticized for over-privileging donor priorities over the needs of local communities, thereby undermining long-term relationships and on-the-ground management. Other empirical work highlights NGOs’ role in brokering power relations or, in some cases, feeding off CBM processes to promote their brand. For this project, we draw on a range of empirical studies of community-based management of natural and marine resources to assess the specific affordances awarded to NGOs in community-based management. In particular, we will unpack some of the conditions that facilitate or hinder NGOs’ role as bridge builders in CBNRM.

Public Consultations on Gender in the EU: Organizing Echo Chambers or Facilitating Norm Translation

In this project and with the help of Austin Hudgens, I focus on the productivity of gender norms in EU public consultation processes. Public consultations signal normative engagement in several ways: They invite deliberation and commentary about specific policies and their underlying norms; and in the process they signal procedural buy-in into the democratic norms of participation themselves. Public consultations are intended to generate voice from organized stakeholders and interested individuals, thus creating linkages that theoretically establish more salient EU-level norms and policies as a result of increased deliberative processes. At the same time, we know very little about (1) the decisions of what is being put up for public input (and what not) in EU gender policy; (2) the substantive frames that undergird specific consultations; (3) the role of national and subnational translation in engaging with the provided frames; (4) how the make-up of respondents and their specific national/organizational background impacts the results of a consultation, and (5) to what degree the outcome is utilized to adjust or alter EU-level norms.