This book explores questions about feminist political analysis. What does it mean to do political analysis from a gender perspective? Why and how to do it? By political analysis – borrowing from Colin Hay (2002) – we mean the diversity of analytical strategies developed around ‘the political’. Since the political has to do with the ‘distribution, exercise, and consequences of power’, political analysis focuses on the analysis of ‘power relations’ (Hay 2002: 3). Power itself is a contested concept that is theorized and studied in a variety of ways with variety of methods (Lukes 2005). Thus, the conceptualization of the political is inextricably connected to distinct interpretations of power. For those who conceive power as conflictual, ‘the political’ is a space of ‘antagonism’ and contestation ‘constitutive of human societies’ that ‘politics’ tries to organize through institutions and practices (Mouffe 2005: 9). Those, by contrast, who are inspired by a more consensual notion of power such as Hannah Arendt (1970: 52), for whom power arises ‘whenever people get together and act in concert’, see the political as a site of collective empowerment through public deliberation and coordinated action to achieve a common goal. Feminist theorists often prefer a definition of power as the ‘interplay between domination and empowerment, between power and counterpower’ (Allen 1999: 18) and see the political as a space where unequal relations are continuously produced and transformed and where the public sphere is just as important as the private (Pateman 1983).
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