In this period of global reorderings, introduce, discuss and examine the newly emerging political idea and form of political representation. Explain where and to which extent this new form of political development was successfully implemented? What were the long-term (up until the 1850s) impacts of this implementation in the following places:
- North America
- France and continental Europe
- the Caribbean and Latin America
Politics as a real-world phenomenon and political science as an academic discipline are gendered. This introduction and this volume aim to explain what this means and why it is important. People all over the world find that the basic conditions of their lives—their safety, health, education, work, as well as access to markets, public space, and free expression—are fundamentally shaped by their identification as belonging to particular sex or gender groups. Individual bodies may be typed as male or female, masculine or feminine, heterosexual or homosexual, transgendered or nongendered in a dizzying variety of ways across cultures and over time. However, these social practices of gender often appear natural and unproblematic, even biological and therefore impossible to change, in the social contexts in which they occur. But a cursory review of the literature on the biological basis of sex, taking into account the wide variety of the number and content of gender categories across social contexts, reveals a world far more complex than this simplistic male–female dichotomy would suggest. Gender is never just about sex but varies by race, ethnicity, nation, class, and a variety of other dimensions of social life.
In North America, for example let's take a look at some of the key issues that constitute the partisan divide between political parties in the United States—whether it is reproductive rights or same-sex marriage—we can see that many of the “culture wars” issues are fundamentally questions about which sexual and intimate behaviors of men and women should be accepted and supported by the society at large. In the Philippines, income from domestic worker care work is the number one export and the largest source of foreign currency, while Lim (1998) estimates that income from sex work comprises between 2 and 11 percent of the gross domestic product of Thailand. And, finally, since 2008 the global economic crisis has had a very differentiated impact in terms of the resulting spending cuts and austerity programs. It is clear that some groups are affected far more adversely than others, and many women—who make up a large proportion of state and public sector employees and the majority of single parents and the poor—have been particularly hard hit and affected in different ways from men. Perhaps most profoundly, gender influences the very ways we organize and think about the world and our way of knowing about the world.
Similarly, in Europe we focus on England in the mid-eighteenth century. Its progenitor: technology. The innovations that kickstarted the Industrial Revolution fostered modern democracy and led to the foundation of modern economies. They disrupted society, upending old structures, as well as building new ones. Institutions, industry and demography were all to change course and, ultimately, little about life in Britain was left untouched by the Revolution. As it spread—first to Western Europe and the United States—it also left a much wider mark on the world. Technological transformation took a long time to feed through to politics and policy. But its diffusion ended up permeating both, ultimately reshaping political parties before the founding of the Labour Party, representing the culmination of a long debate over the role of capital and rights of workers.
Today, as the world undergoes a profound period of technological change, far beyond what was experienced during the Industrial Revolution, there are some rhymes of history. There are deep questions around inequality, productivity and regulatory capture. Worries around corporatism are rising and consequently, calls for socialism are becoming louder. But the potential for reordering is even more substantial than in the past. It has also already begun.
The companies that have dominated this age to date have done so as result of significant economies of scale and strong network effects. New business models have evolved, with platforms, aggregators and infrastructure businesses blowing away old models that controlled distribution and had costly fixed assets. This has in turn brought many people closer to economy: the restless inventiveness of a place like Silicon Valley was born out of public funding, but it thrived because the internet enabled distributed entrepreneurship and decentralised power. The countries that are thriving are those that innovative, adopt and adapt. Take-up begets take-off.
The innovation engine is also no longer the national economy in the way that it was during the Industrial Revolution. Every country can be open to outside developments, and whereas in the eighteenth century the UK was an early exporter of new knowledge, many of the most significant developments today are happening in the US, China and other leading nations of Europe. This has raised the potential of what is possible, but so too has it changed people’s perception.