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Reframing Civil Society from Gender Perspectives: A Model of a Multi-layered Seamless World
Hosei University , Tokyo , Japan .
2012 (English)In: Journal of Civil Society, ISSN 1744-8689, E-ISSN 1744-8697, Vol. 8, no 2, 101-121 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article aims to reconceptualize civil society with a particular focus on gender perspectives. Civil society, an arena of social interaction often presumed capable of fostering the empowerment of citizens, is recognized as the basis for democratic politics. To feminists, however, civil society does not necessarily have such positive connotations. Although women have been actively involved in social movements and other kinds of voluntary activities, feminist scholars have paid little attention to these activities in the context of civil society. Some feminist theorists are explicitly critical of civil society. First of all, this article examines feminist criticisms of civil society. Feminists oppose clear-cut boundaries dividing the lifeworld into the private sphere, civil society, and the state. By highlighting the problems associated with these boundaries, I attempt to reframe the concept of civil society. My approach follows the work of Iris Young, who conceptualizes civil society as a collection of three porous, overlapping associative activities—private, civic, and political associations. Young's work not only transcends the problem of boundaries, but also addresses the ongoing debates between liberal and critical theorists. However, it leaves room for further examination: Should any of these boundaries be dissolved? Specifically, the question remains as to whether the family is divided from civil society. In addressing the question, I posit an alternative model comprising the family, the three associative activities, and state political institutions. These elements are intertwined such that their boundaries are effectively seamless. The proposed model offers a wider approach to civil society, shedding light on the interplay between civil society and everyday life as well as state political institutions. Throughout the article, I argue that gender perspectives contribute to how civil society should be conceptualized.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 8, no 2, 101-121 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97523OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-97523DiVA: diva2:678721
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Women and Politics in Japan: A Combined Analysis of Representation and Participation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Women and Politics in Japan: A Combined Analysis of Representation and Participation
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Notwithstanding the country’s socio-economic advancement, Japanese women’s presence in politics lags far behind many less developed countries. They are politically silent as their demands hardly reach the centre of political decision-making. The purpose of this compilation thesis is to find answers to the following questions: why Japanese women’s political status remains low; how they tackle their under-representation; and what difficulties they face in their struggles for political involvement. Focusing both on their presence in legislatures and on their participatory activities within civil society, the thesis attempts to elucidate what impedes Japanese women from entering politics and the obstacles to their political activities. Specifically, the thesis attaches importance to the interplay between women’s representation and feminist movements; that is, women’s collective efforts to demand more women representatives are necessary to significantly improve their representation. The Japanese case demonstrates the inharmonious interplay between these two facets. It sheds light on a negative example, which illustrates that having only lukewarm women’s movements calling for more women representatives contributes to women’s on-going under-representation, which, in turn, discourages women from becoming more involved in these activities. Women’s representation plays a symbolic and substantive role in developing democracy. In other words, with a well-functioning democracy, all members of the political community share power equally. Throughout this compilation, it is suggested that the vicious cycle of under-representation and lukewarm feminist activism is not only detrimental to Japanese women but it also impedes Japanese democracy from progressing further. The thesis is composed of six parts. The first part, as the introduction, aims to give a theoretical framework to the thesis, theorizing the interplay between electoral representation and participatory activities and putting forward my approach in the thesis. The subsequent parts comprise five previously published articles. Although each article has been published separately in different journals, each of them includes Japanese case studies, as well as general perspectives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, 2013. 43 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in politics, ISSN 0346-6620 ; 155
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97529 (URN)978-91-7447-833-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-01-29, Nordenskiöldssalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-01-07 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2013-12-18Bibliographically approved

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