Handbook on Gender in World Politics
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Handbook on Gender in World Politics

Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe

The Handbook on Gender in World Politics is an up-to-date, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary compendium of scholarship in gender studies. The text provides an indispensable reference guide for scholars and students interrogating gender issues in international and global contexts. Substantive areas covered include: statecraft, citizenship and the politics of belonging, international law and human rights, media and communications technologies, political economy, development, global governance and transnational visions of politics and solidarities.
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Chapter 3: Gender as a variable in international relations research

Andrea den Boer


A significant proportion of research in the social sciences is concerned with measuring and explaining social, economic, and political phenomena. In order to derive these explanations, scholars must devise categories of analysis, or variables that enable them to examine relationships and interactions between the variables. Variables commonly studied in international relations (IR) include: actors such as states, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations (IOs), and other institutions; actions such as the use of force, sanctions, giving aid, protection of human rights, or other global norms; and additional variables that further define actors and actions such as level of economic development, type of regime, intensity and duration of the action, and so on. Gender is increasingly used as a variable in international relations research to develop explanations of the extent to which actions and actors are affected by, or have an effect on, gender, generally defined as male and female. In contrast to researchers committed to a positivist epistemology, who assert that only scientific methods are appropriate to gain knowledge and truths about the social and political world, most feminist scholars adopting a ‘gender as a variable’ approach in their research view statistical and comparative methods as one sub-set of the useful tools that researchers can use to explain and understand the way in which international relations is gendered.

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