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Cover Poverty and Development

18. Rethinking Gender Matters in Development  

Charlotte Brown and Ruth Pearson

This chapter evaluates how gender analysis can be applied to development, in both understanding the context in which it takes place and assessing development policies. The twenty-first century marked the rhetorical acceptance and embrace of gender analysis with a continued emphasis on women's rights and practical interests. However, it is important not to see efforts to meet practical gendered interests in opposition to efforts to challenge existing gender roles. A twin-track effort is necessary to meet the challenges of gendered experiences of poverty while also ensuring broader application of gender analysis addressing strategic gender interests and analysing the causes of gender inequality in order to address the uneven nature of progress towards gender equality. Recent years have highlighted a number of new areas of foci for political activism: gender inequality and abuse within organizations and across development practices; resurgence of conservative views on gender roles; and fluid gender roles.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

7. John Locke  

Hagar Kotef

This chapter discusses John Locke’s theory of the social contract, which became one of the primary frameworks of political thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It focuses on one of his books, The Second Treatise of Government, first published in 1689. Since Locke sees humans as essentially rational beings, he believes that even without a ‘power to keep them all in awe’, humans could live in relative peace with each other, form social lives, and regulate themselves according to the Laws of Nature. While seemingly presenting a universal individual, Locke’s social contract theory in fact contrives only specific individuals as the contracting agents: propertied, European (if not English) men. The chapter situates Locke’s contract within a global historical context by considering the voices that have been excluded from or marginalized within this story. Through these different figures—the servant (wage labourer), the wife, the Indigenous, and the slave—we see a series of tensions between formal equality and material, racial, and gender inequalities.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

18. A Decade of Democratic Decline and Stagnation  

M. Steven Fish, Jason Wittenberg, and Laura Jakli

This chapter examines key factors that lead to failed democratization. It first describes five categories of countries: established democracies, established autocracies, robust democratizers, tenuous democratizers, and failed democratizers. Using the Freedom House Index, it explains why some democratizers slid backwards while others did not. In particular, it looks at the conditions that undermine democracy and political actors, such as the chief executive, that contribute to democratization’s derailment. The chapter identifies several major structural factors that influence whether democratization succeeds fully, succeeds partially, or fails. These include poverty, a late history of national independence, a large Muslim population, economic reliance on oil and gas, and gender inequality. The chapter concludes by considering ways of reducing the hazards of democratic reversal and preventing relapses into authoritarianism, such as strengthening legislatures and curtailing executive power.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

21. Mary Wollstonecraft  

Ashley Dodsworth

This chapter expounds on the political thought of feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, with a focus on her influential analysis of gender inequality. It highlights her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by focusing on its radical arguments on gender, reason, and education. The chapter contextualizes Wollstonecraft’s work within the republican tradition, which underpinned her opposition to slavery and her recognition of global inequalities. The chapter suggests that her arguments for emancipation were justified by problematic assumptions of universalism that were made more complicated by the tensions of class, motherhood, and Orientalism. It also tackles the backlash against her memoir, published by her husband, as it unveiled her suicide attempts, a dysfunctional childhood, and a child being born out of wedlock.