Critical State, Governance and Globalization Studies

Research group at the Department of Political Science, Vienna

Governing Gender Relations / Critical Governance Studies

Current debates about changes in gender relations in the context of economic globalization and political internalization of the state as well as debates about the intersectionality of different structures of inequality have given new relevance to the theorization of gender within political science. New importance has been placed on debates about democracy and difference, the politicization of gender differences by social movements as well as equality policies at the national and international level.

Within political science, the notion of "governance" has become a metaphor for new forms of governing, decision making and participating. The research network seeks to contribute to the field of Critical Governance Studies in the context of the current transformation of statehood.

The main focus is placed on gender-sensitive analysis of governance concepts and empirical analysis of governance processes. Moreover, the research group has particular interest in analyzing different forms of regulating gender regimes. In this context, the group considers it necessary to link gender to other analytical categories such as race, class and sexuality. The work in the network is based on feminist state and social theory. Hence, the analyses refer to an extended notion of the state, which also includes the civil society as part of the state. Particular emphasis is placed on the theory of hegemony by Antonio Gramsci and the concept of governmentality by Michel Foucault. This not only widens the field of the state but also expands the area of state theory. The network's research projects analyze both the macro-political as well as the micro-political dimension of gender relations in the state. Therefore,  empirical studies focus on the gendered structures of the state, while theories are developed on the relationship between the state and gendered subjection.
The research network seeks to point out modernizations, transformations as well as stabilizations within gender relations. Furthermore, the networks aims to contribute to deepening feminist state and social theory.

Critical Studies of Globalization

International politics has been subject to profound changes in recent years. The fuzzy concept of globalization denotes an epochal social upheaval, beginning in the 1970s and gaining momentum after 1989. This involves economic, political, and cultural developments driven by governments, business, media, social movements, and other actors and that take place not only at the international or transnational level. Globalization penetrates individual companies and is created by a variety of economic, political, and cultural everyday practices. Diverse social structures and values are changed through the interplay of class and gender relations, ethnic structuring, societal nature relations, forms of social division of labor and competition, the public arena. These forces create changes especially in state and politics; on the other hand, state and politics are driving forces themselves.

 In the globalization process, some groups in society become richer and more powerful, others poorer and weaker. Therefore, globalization is associated with profound problems and contradictions: economic instability, social polarization, and impoverishment contrast with the production of immense wealth. The established forms of democratic representation, which were significantly linked to the nation state, are undermined. Globalization, therefore by many people, is seen as undemocratic and as controlled by elites.

In the field of international politics, the Department of Political Science uses a theory-driven, historical perspective along with empirical exploration in individual fields to research the causes, dynamics, and effects of these transformations. Globalization is not understood as an "inherent necessity", but as a socially contested result of interests and strategies of specific actors and as shaped by unequal power and domination relations in different areas. Moreover, researchers investigate the fact that the recent global changes in society can hardly be stabilized politically, while crises and legitimation deficits increase.


Birgit Sauer and Ulrich Brand
Department of Political Science, University of Vienna

Current Members:

Edma Ajanovic, Brigitte Bargetz, Tobias Boos, Katja Chmilewski, Anna Durnova, Ayse Dursun, Rainer Einzenberger, Myriam Gaitsch, Markus Griesser, Katharina Hajek, Hanna Lichtenberger, Gundula Ludwig, Stefanie Mayer, Benjamin Opratko, Otto Penz, Melanie Pichler, Wolfram Schaffar, Etienne Schneider, Silvia Schröcker and Angelika Striedinger