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Can these varied electoral institutions explain the diversity of policies observed? This question remains unanswered. Despite a growing body of research, little consensus exists as to precisely how electoral institutions affect policy. Why is it so difficult to untangle the effects of electoral institutions on economic policy? One reason for the confusion may be the imprecise manner in which electoral institutions are often measured. Better measures of electoral systems may improve our understanding of their policy effects. Improved theories that clarify the causal mechanism s linking electoral systems to policy outcomes will also help to clarify the relationship between electoral systems and policies.

To better understand the policy effects of electoral institutions, both theoretical and empirical work must take seriously contextual factors, such as geography, which likely mediate the effects of electoral institutions. Finally, different types of empirical evidence are needed to shed new light on the policy effects of electoral institutions. It is difficult to identify the effects of electoral systems in cross-national studies because of the many other factors that vary across countries. Examining within-country variations, such as changes in district magnitude, may provide useful new insights regarding the effects of electoral institutions on policy.

Yet research on the European Council can be cumbersome and methodologically demanding due to the lack of confirmed empirical evidence: The conclusions are only a concentrate of the discussions held within. It is furthermore a challenge to explain the causal links between the diplomatic language of the conclusions and the real impact these measures have on EU politics. Nevertheless, the European Council is a vivid object of investigation.

Since its creation in , the European Council has undergone structural and formal changes: In crisis, it was often the only constellation able to provide consensual and thus effective proposals. Meanwhile, the scope of its activities has been enlarged toward a state-like agenda. It now covers topics at the very heart of national sovereignty.

To these issues dealing with core state powers belong economic governance, migration policy, justice and home affairs, and external action, including security policy. Some argue that the European Council shifts the institutional balance toward intergovernmentalist structures. Analyses of power and of the role of institutions—especially of a key institution as the European Council—are crucial issues of social sciences.

Research projects on this highly interesting EU institution will have to assess which methods are adequate: Many institutionalist scholars—historical institutionalists in particular—have recognized for some time that our understanding of institutional change needs to be improved. Taking this premise as a starting point, this article develops it by arguing that we not only need to understand institutional change better but that we also need to improve our understanding of how it is gendered.

The chapter combines key elements from institutional analysis with recent gender and politics scholarship. This combination will form an analytical framework that can be used to examine how different instances of institutional change are gendered, highlighting, for example, the importance of some key concepts such as informal institutions and their role in either promoting or stymieing attempts to promote institutional change. After exploring the gaps in many current gender and politics analyses such as their capacity to explain many instances of institutional change, the paper charts the development of key insights on institutional change from both historical institutionalism and feminist institutionalism.

It delineates different forms of institutional change and develops some key themes for each one that might enable us to better understand, not only how each is gendered, but also how far each form might be used by change actors as a gender equity strategy.

While women have succeeded in promoting a feminist agenda in some parliaments, the international research shows that this is not always possible, and accordingly, not a realistic expectation for women. Parliaments, like any institution, have specific cultural norms and practices, some of which actively work against the advancement of gender equality. Understanding the conditions under which female—and male—parliamentarians might succeed in promoting gender equality outcomes has become an important avenue for research and development practice.

The focus on gender-sensitive parliaments allows for a framework to identify, and encourage the development of, those conditions. There are four key elements of a gender-sensitive parliament. First, it accepts that the responsibility to achieve gender equality, both as a policy outcome and as a process, rests with the parliament as a whole its male and female members and staff and with the organizations that drive substantial policy, procedural, and normative development political parties. Second, a gender-sensitive parliament is guided by institutional policies and legal frameworks, which allow the parliament to monitor its achievements toward gender equality and allow follow-up and review.

This element requires a reconsideration of the process and structures of the parliament, including the respective roles and capacities of members and parliamentary staff. Fourth, a gender-sensitive parliament constantly strives to eliminate institutional cultures that sanction and perpetuate discriminatory, prejudicial norms and attitudes in the workplace against women members and staff. Over the past several decades scholars have intensively debated what factors drive globalization. Answers have ranged from the emergence of the information society and the global economy to value-conflicts embedded in different civilizations.

A different yet closely related question is who is driving globalization? That is, however, much less studied, even if it is arguably key to making global governance intelligible. A whole list of actors seem to offer possible answers to the question of who the globalizers are: Are they global institutions such as the World Trade Organization WTO or the International Criminal Court ICC ; communities of experts providing technocratic solutions; transnational networks of activists seeking to alter global and national politics by pursuing, for example, environmental or human rights agendas; or are they powerful individuals forming transnational elites taking the fate of the global society in their hands at a safe distance from ordinary politics in places such as Brussels, New York, or Davos?

Going public is the preeminent governing strategy of modern presidents.

Political Legitimacy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

When presidents go public, they attempt to influence the decisions, actions, and opinions of others through speechmaking and other public engagement. Although some scholars of the rhetorical presidency show how presidents have used speeches to govern since the dawn of American democracy, the bulk of scholarship centers on the modern presidency, as both advances in communications technologies and changes in federal policymaking institutions spurred presidents to go public. Going public as a leadership strategy involves a variety of presidential speeches designed to reach a range of institutions and actors.

Strategies include going local, speaking on national television, or saturating news coverage by sustaining attention to a top priority. Presidents have had some success going public, although the ways in which presidents have been successful vary by strategy and target audience. Going public is more than just presidential leadership of others.

Thus, a second focus of research on going public is what explains speechmaking and the tendency of presidents to respond to those institutions and actors that they also attempt to lead. The majority of existing research centers on presidential leadership of, and responsiveness to, mass public opinion, but the emergence of a more polarized public may influence why presidents go public and may change what political scientists conclude concerning going public and presidential leadership in a more polarized political age.

The judicialization of politics is an expression that has been widely used in the fields of comparative law and judicial politics alike since it first emerged in the s. Yet, despite its ubiquity, it is difficult to ascertain its specific meaning because it is used to refer to such a wide range of court-related phenomena and processes. Despite its varying usages and meanings, there has been a puzzling lack of scholarly discussion over the scope of the term, and very little critical analysis of its use. This silence has impeded the project of comparative constitutional law.

So it is necessary to disentangle and compare the many faces of judicialization that are used in various political science literatures. There are as many as nine distinct forms of the term that are regularly used; yet the various empirical strategies for measuring, defining, and documenting this phenomenon are often incommensurable, and further, the causes of judicialization frequently overlap and occasionally contradict one another.

The popularity of this term has come at the cost of conceptual clarity, and this confusion has impeded both the project of building a comparative theory of judicialization, and efforts to have a coherent normative debate about its consequences. With the goal of theory building in mind, a systematic study of judicialization and its multiple usages can be a useful way to illuminate key questions for a new research agenda geared toward a deeper and more nuanced understanding of this term.

Liberalism in politics is associated with nonauthoritarianism, the rule of law, constitutional government with limited powers, and the guarantee of civil and political liberties. A liberal society is tolerant of different religious, philosophical, and ethical doctrines and allows individuals to freely form and express their conscientious convictions and opinions on all matters and live according to their chosen purposes and life paths.

In economic terms, liberalism is associated with an unplanned economy with free and competitive markets, as well as private ownership and control of productive resources. Liberals interpret these basic institutions differently. Classical liberalism regards extensive property rights and economic liberties as basic, while libertarians see all rights as property rights and as absolute. High liberalism regards economic liberties as subordinate to personal and political liberties and subject to regulation, with redistribution of income and wealth to mitigate gross inequalities and provide all citizens with adequate resources to guarantee the worth of their basic liberties and opportunities.

National secession seeks to create a new sovereign state for a nation residing on its homeland that is currently located inside another sovereign state. This goal distinguishes national secession from regional secession, autonomy, and decolonization and shapes the strategies, operational objectives, and tactical choices of the leaders of national-secession campaigns. Explanations for the success of some campaigns—particularly, success at getting on the global agenda—have focused on the identities, grievances, or greed of their members.

Explanations for why some campaigns have turned to protracted intense violence have focused on these motivations and on tactical-logistical opportunities. The existing literature suffers from its failure to agree on theoretical and conceptual fundamentals. As a consequence, empirical studies focus on very different universes of cases and operationalize key variables in diverging ways.

The existing literature frequently does not consider how the goal of national secession constrains the strategies, operations, and tactics of such campaigns. And so, it often fails to consider whether studies with another dependent variable can be extended to the study of national secession. Missing from these explanations is the authenticity and realism of the programs for national secession in the assessments of the populations that each program presents as a nation with a right to a sovereign state of its own.

Explanations and recommendations for responses by common-state governments, their allies, and the international community often fail to understand the centrality of the war of programs between national secessionists and common-state governments and the ways this constrains what compromises are possible and what responses are most likely to lead to domestic and international peace in such conflicts. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Publications Pages Publications Pages.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias Politics. Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. Sign in with your library card. Perform this search in Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Article Type Full Article Political Institutions , World Politics. Austria was occupied at the end of World War II by the four Allies, but in contrast to Germany the four powers left in —the condition being its declaration of permanent neutrality, on Though democracy has since spread to much of the world, Integration with the European Union has been far less distressing for the three Baltic States than for numerous other accessing countries owing to their strong societal impetus to re join The study of democracy today has been influenced While the decolonization period of the s still kept the old ties of The researchers in question all refused to subscribe to any one theoretical trend, showing no hesitation in combining perspectives often considered mutually exclusive on the other side of the Atlantic for example, rational choice, symbolic interactionism, and genetic structuralism.

However, this empirical stance did not mean that they eschewed theoretical ambitions. Quite the contrary, the latter were a central component in how they construed their subject. The key research issue they addressed in their studies was the way in how political institutions can objectify the social order.

Public Sphere in Modern Societies

Put differently, their primary aim was to fully embed political institutions in the social world. French researchers are less interested in institutions than in processes of institutionalisation and their aim tends to be understanding the links between these processes and the social order. In doing so, they can be said to be pursuing an avenue opened up by Max Weber, according to whom domination, when exercised over a large number of individuals in a lasting fashion, requires political and administrative apparatuses tasked with maintaining belief in its legitimacy 9.

Broadly speaking, two main lines of research can be distinguished from this perspective. The first is macro-sociological and aims to understand the processes through which political institutions are invested with socially shared beliefs that legitimate the way political power is exercised in contemporary democracies.

The second is more micro-sociological and examines the conditions under which relations of domination are reproduced or transformed within institutions. This second line of research sheds complementary light on the first: Of course, contemporary democracies are not only based on beliefs. Political regimes are held together in various ways: This research hypothesis raises at least two questions.

Political Legitimacy

What beliefs legitimate democratic political institutions? And how are they forged, that is to say by whom and through what processes? Following on from this, some researchers have underscored the key role that the law plays in contemporary democracies: In other words, these studies shed light on the creation of a belief that is fundamental to the legitimation of democratic political institutions, namely the belief that they are neutral. March and Johan P. Olsen explain, long prevented their scientific analysis More specifically, by retracing the genesis of Republican constitutional doctrine 17 , looking at how it became autonomous from political power 18 , or examining how it is used in the government of international institutions 19 , such research sheds novel light on the socio-professional conditions of political legitimation without slipping into a sociology of conspiracy.


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Due to both their professional ethos and the specificities of the legal field, legal specialists are in fact the first to subscribe to the justifications they produce. As for political leaders, the legal formatting of their positions constrains their actions just as much as it legitimates them. Article 5 of the Constitution, as we know, justifies the exceptional powers of the President of the Republic given the role of arbitre with its dual meaning of both arbitrator, in the legal sense, and umpire.

However, as a consequence of this legal definition of the presidential role, those who take it on then find themselves distanced from party support, which can place them in somewhat of a double bind when it comes to re-election. The fact remains that while these studies have considerably enriched our knowledge of rational legal domination, research on the legitimation of political institutions cannot stop there. As Weber explains, they are only ideal-types, which are neither successive nor exclusive.

Studies analysing charismatic phenomena in the most bureaucratised states of law have clearly demonstrated this and it is particularly true of the Fifth Republic. His charisma was routinised in such a way as to place the future of the regime in the balance and was a key issue in political competition during the early years of the Fifth Republic 21 , which had a lasting impact on the presidential role The case of French political institutions, while emblematic, is far from being exceptional.

As other studies have shown, the construction of European institutions also owes much to the charismatic communities that formed around Jean Monnet 23 and Pierre Henry Teitgen Second, certain observations relativise how important the law is in legitimating contemporary political institutions. First, voter abstention, radicalisation, and civil disobedience all indicate that a substantial number of citizens do not necessarily subscribe to this level of justification. It is also likely that many people, including those with high-level qualifications, do not have the necessary legal knowledge to think of political institutions in legal terms.

Furthermore, while the legal framework of political life has developed considerably over the last thirty years, certain positions of power remain bound in a regime that is almost entirely exempt from the law. The Prime Minister and, more broadly, the government, offer a case in point as their scope of activity is largely undetermined by law For all these reasons, and to avoid remaining confined to legal discourse about political institutions — which actually contributes to rational legal domination — researchers have also examined the hypothesis that the legitimacy of democratic institutions is based on their capacity to be identified with certain social norms Political institutions, as we know, are particularly elitist.

On this point, the statistics are incontrovertible: These new studies demonstrated empirically that institutions are not only defined legally, they are also socially constructed First , holding political office means taking on the role of elected official and this comes with certain social expectations. However, within the most established institutions, such as Mairies 34 or the Presidency, these expectations serve as prescriptions determining the behaviour of those post-holders.

For example, socialist party mayors proved unable to subvert the mayoral office as they had originally hoped Quite the contrary, in fact: Second, whatever the expectations weighing on the roles of elected officials, advancing in Conseils municipaux , Parliament, etc. What is true for class is also true for gender. As early as , Mariette Sineau showed that political institutions, while theoretically universal, were in reality gendered and gendering. In other words, they forced female elected officials to imitate the virile behaviour of their male counterparts In this regard, while the parity law introduced in June offers an unprecedented way of promoting women in politics, it has not necessarily made the task any easier for the women wanting to pursue a career in the field Elected due to their sex, they nonetheless still have to conform to the masculine norms of the role in order to avoid symbolic sanctions.

Political institutions are therefore not just mirrors reflecting existing social inequalities: The feminist action group La Barbe intervenes to the Senate in a colloquium on the 5th Republic. Studies on women in politics do not, however, simply confirm that the universal is masculine here as it is elsewhere Pursuing an avenue opened up by historian Joan W. In other words, it can be analysed as a political language that not only creates hierarchy and structure in the social world, but also makes the political organisation of societies objective by naturalising it.

However, these political uses of gender are far from remaining confined to obsolete regimes in far away lands. Of course, in the relatively closed circles of political activism in contemporary democracies, there is little scope for claiming a gendered political identity In other words, unlike legal language, it can be understood by everyone including people who have little political awareness.

Doing Social Sciences

Consequently, it can contribute to mobilising public opinion around political views and party loyalty However, it also serves to naturalise hierarchical relationships between positions of power that are not framed objectively by the rule of law. It is largely undetermined by law, in terms of both the boundaries of competence of each role and the hierarchy between the two.

The rhetoric used to frame these situations is therefore neither legal nor even political but domestic. President-Prime Minister, the infernal couple. In the Fifth Republic, the Prime Minister is the leader of the government but not of the executive. It is striking to note that, in the press, political actors who accept this role tend to be framed in feminine terms.

In other words, the qualities ascribed to them are those usually associated with women in politics listening, being discreet, being likable, etc. These feminine identity markers attached to political leaders can be analysed as a way of naturalising their subordinate position in the hierarchy of executive power, while symbolically preserving the gendered order of the social world. Having underlined the role of law and legal specialists in producing the beliefs that legitimate how political power is organised, current research now highlights the role played by gender and journalists.

In this regard, the rise in work on gender in communication and media studies — whether in information and communication technologies 48 or in political science 49 — has contributed to furthering knowledge about the legitimation of political institutions. From this perspective, that legitimation appears less grounded in reason legal, economic, etc.

What remains to be understood is how, on a concrete level, they contribute to founding the social order. The power that institutions exercise over individuals is a key issue in this field of inquiry.


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  • For a long time, this question was addressed in two mutually exclusive ways: Insofar as they pay careful attention to the heterogeneous nature of relationships to institutions, they immediately reject this binary choice. Rather than judging the degree of constraint exercised over actors by objectivated bodies of rules and beliefs, they strive to show the various ways in which actors engage with these rules and beliefs. This particular stance can be explained in two ways.

    The first stems from the specificity of political institutions. They are part of a relatively autonomous universe of practices, which is also characterised by its extremely competitive nature. As evidenced by the way presidential candidates include constitutional reforms in their manifestos — and even more so by the way elected Presidents tend to enact regime reforms — defining political institutions is one of the major trophy in political competition, alongside gaining power. Given the reality of the field, trying to understand the variable relationships between political institutions and their actors was therefore more a necessity than an epistemological break with the past.

    At first glance, this definition might seem vague. However, this is far from being a limitation; on the contrary, it is precisely where its value lies: On a methodological level, this stance mainly translated into qualitative approaches. However, whatever the protocols used and whatever the institutions studied, these studies all lead to the same conclusion: Political institutions appear to be continually shaped by the actors in a position to engage in the practical and symbolic struggles involved in their social construction Moreover, and in relation to this, the power wielded by these institutions cannot simply be compared to that of a police force tasked with maintaining the existing social order.

    On the one hand, this institution plays an important role in socialising people to political careers by allowing some of its members to go beyond the locally-rooted nature of their office. In some cases, this co-construction can produce social changes, even under authoritarian regimes.

    Non-collective political institutions, such as the Presidency, are no exception in this regard. The presidential role in France is commonly described as having been tailor-made by and for the General de Gaulle, who viewed the role as that of an arbiter — both an arbitrator, in the legal sense, and an umpire — detached from any party affiliation. However, it has in fact considerably evolved since election by direct universal suffrage was introduced.

    From as early as the vote, the role became politicised under pressure from the left wing 60 , to the extent that electing a candidate with little or no party capital seems impossible today. At the same time, defining the presidential role became the main prize in a symbolic struggle where the social value of economic capability was at stake, along with the social value of the groups who could take advantage of it Although this struggle also went beyond this, it culminated in the presidential campaign when the General de Gaulle was forced to defend the economic results of his first seven-year term and to publicly acknowledge the importance he placed on economic issues in playing his role.

    Of course, these counter-intuitive examples are in the minority. But they do remind us that, in political institutions more than anywhere else, relationships of domination are never fixed: It therefore produces not only consensus but also tension and compromises. And when this domination is maintained despite legal measures aimed at reversing it, for example in the case of the French assemblies that are supposed to respect parity, this is not an iterative process that reproduces the existing situation identically — instead, it is a reconstructive process, in which the dominant only manage to keep their positions through various more or less costly investments