Accueil > Who’s Afraid of Gender Theory? Gender as an Analytical Tool for the Social Sciences

CSPO 24A04 - Who

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2019-2020

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Online materials


None, except a curiosity about gender studies and the open mind necessary to the analysis of highly debated topics.

Course Description

In the last decades, gender has become an important cause of political mobilization, filling the streets with people standing for “gender equality” as with others protesting in the name of “traditional values”. However, whether it is used as a bogey or invoked as a positive value, the exact meaning of “gender” in the public sphere is far from being clear. If its opponents denounce it as an ideology, for many people it stands as a synonym for women, while others rather see it as an intimate identity feeling. The aim of this course is to question what “gender” exactly means as a concept for the social sciences, and to examine the way it acts as a structuring principle in political life. From the development of nation-states to contemporary activisms, this course will thus examine the intertwinements between gender and politics in today's world. Going beyond the idea that inequalities persist simply because of the imperfect application of the principles of “justice” and “equality”, this class will rather lead students to question the role of gender in the development and application of such concepts. To do so, it will cover the principal themes relevant to the analysis of the political and juridical orders, examining the role of gender and sexuality when it comes to political power and representation, violence and accountability, institutions and strategies for change, ideologies, and politicization processes.


LE BELLEC, Amandine R. (PhD candidate at Sciences Po and the University of Trento)

Pedagogical format

The course is organized in six thematic sessions of 4 hours, each of them composed of two related sub-themes. It will alternate between lectures, students' presentations and discussion, and workshops (debates or group work on case studies).

Course validation

A presentation in class and a short research paper (critical analysis using several of the main concepts and readings from the course). A brief multiple-choice quiz on the required readings will be given every session (bonus points to improve overall mark).


Students are expected to do the required readings for every session (usually two articles per session, that offer contrasting points of view in order to foster debate) in order to be able to actively participate in class.

Required reading

  • Ackerly, Brooke, and Jacqui True. ‘With or without Feminism? Researching Gender and Politics in the 21st Century'. European Journal of Politics and Gender 1, no. 1–2 (July 2018): 259–78.
  • Brook, Heather. ‘Stalemate: Rethinking the Politics of Marriage'. Feminist Theory 3, no. 1 (1 April 2002): 45–66.
  • Hollander, Jocelyn A. 2001. ‘Vulnerability and Dangerousness: The Construction of Gender through Conversation about Violence'. Gender and Society 15 (1): 83–109
  • Jaunait, Alexandre, Amélie Le Renard, and Élisabeth Marteu. ‘Sexual Nationalisms?' Raisons Politiques No 49, no. 1 (11 September 2013): 5–23.
  • Pateman, Carole. ‘The Fraternal Social Contract', The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism and Political Theory, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1989, 33-57.