The Politics of State Feminism

Innovation in Comparative Research

Dorothy E. McBride and Amy G Mazur
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0208-0
Publication: Jul 12

HC: $76.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0207-3
Publication: Aug 10

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0209-7
Publication: Aug 10

318 pages

Addressing essential questions of women's movement activism and political change in Western democracies


The Politics of State Feminism addresses essential questions of women's movement activism and political change in Western democracies. The authors—top gender and politics scholars—provide a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of women’s policy agencies and women's movements on a range of important issues to show whether, how, and why they form state feminism.

The central research questions are examined across five policy areas in thirteen postindustrial democracies in Europe and North America from the 1960s through the early 2000s. The authors explore topics drawn from contemporary theory on movements, representation, and the place of institutions in democratic change.

Beginning with the rich studies of policy debates by the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State, the authors use an innovative qualitative and quantitative strategy to develop a new body of theory about the role of state feminism and how it can help further women’s rights.


"This provocative book is the definitive treatment of state feminism. The authors offer systematic explorations of cutting-edge themes in comparative politics, policy, and gender and politics. Their scholarship here is exemplary. The Politics of State Feminism is a gold mine of insights into the relationships between women's movements and the state, and it will be the book that scholars consult to learn about the development and political significance of the proliferation of women's policy machineries in advanced industrialized countries."
Laurel Weldon, Professor of Political Science at Purdue University and author of Protest, Policy, and the Problem of Violence against Women: A Cross-National Comparison

"The Politics of State Feminism is a comprehensive book—the capstone of an ambitious, long-term, international, collaborative project. Feminist without reservation, the authors address a range of interconnected and interesting literatures, and their conclusions are thoughtful and timely. Very few comparative projects combine this breadth and depth."
Charles Ragin, Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Arizona and author of Redesigning Social Inquiry: Fuzzy Sets and Beyond

"The book is sure to be a classic for scholars focused on advanced research on women, gender, institutions, and politics, and for those studying women's policy apparatus in government as it connects with women's movements in the majority of nations (i.e., in the non-Western world). Summing Up: Highly recommended."

"(A) long awaited culmination of a 15- year-long international collaborative project on comparative state feminism which was initiated by two prominent feminist political scientists.... This book is a celebrated finale of this collective odyssey that addresses essential questions of women’s movement activism and political change in Western democracies through a comprehensive comparative analysis of the effectiveness of women’s policy agencies and women’s movements on a range of important policy issues. The book presents a unique combination of conceptual sophistication, first-hand original data, wide-ranging review of interconnected literatures, methodological rigor, and thought-provoking theoretical conclusions. This book will be widely read by scholars and students interested in gender politics, institutional and policy change, social movements, and democratization.... The study’s conclusions are very important and timely."
The Journal of Politics

"This is a densely packed and comprehensive book, explaining the long-standing and widely recognized state feminism project and offering a more rigorous, empirical version of its findings. It explains empirical testing of comparative hypotheses and contributes to broader social science debates."
Journal of Women, Politics and Policy

"Superb.... This exhaustive and nuanced scholarship is what allowed for both the identification and testing of the fundamental research question found in this capstone book."
Perspectives on Politics

"This is the capstone book of a large-scale, even hugely ambitious, project led by the authors, which has compared ‘state feminism’ (women’s policy agencies) in 13 countries.... this book is extremely welcome.... it provides a toolkit for those researching the policy influence of women’s movements."
Australian Feminist Studies

"The Politics of State Feminism is strongest as a synthesis and extension of the insights from the collective comparative efforts of the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State (RNGS).... In tackling big questions of variations in the relationships between women's movements and the state as mediated by women's agencies, McBride and Mazur...make several important contributions.... Among the many innovations that stand out, their lucid summaries of the results of ordinal regression, crisp-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis and case studies make the book both a trove of empirical results and mixed-methods approaches, and an important resource for research pedagogy and practice.... McBride, Mazur and the RNGS network contribute important innovations to comparative research."
Social Forces

Table of Contents


Part I Framework and Foundations
1 The State Feminism Project
2 Concepts and Mixed Methods
3 Mapping Women's Policy Agencies

Part II Exploring State Feminism
4 Women's Policy Agencies and Women's Movement Success
5 Women's Policy Agency Success and Failure: The Search for Explanations
6 What's Feminist about State Feminism?

Part III Unpacking State Feminism
7 Social Movements and Women's Movements by Joyce Outshoorn
8 Political Representation by Joni Lovenduski and Marila Guadagnini
9 Framing and Gendering by Birgit Sauer
10 Gendering New Institutionalism by Amy G. Mazur and Dorothy E. McBride

Part IV Conclusion
11 The New Politics of State Feminism


About the Author(s)

Dorothy E. McBride is Professor Emerita of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University.

Amy G. Mazur is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at Washington State University. She received the Midwest Political Science Association Women's Caucus, Professional Achievement Award in 2011.