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Jill Vickers, Joan Grace and Cheryl N. Collier
In this Handbook a number of international gender scholars explore the third ‘wave’ of research about gender, diversity and federalism. It focuses on how institutions, ideas and practices affect, and are affected by, gender regimes as well as territorially and non-territorially organized diversities, including minority ethnicities, ‘race’, religious and sexual minorities. In recent decades, scholarship examining the intersections between gender, diversity and state architectures in federations progressed through several earlier ‘waves’. In the first wave, starting in the 1980s, feminist political scientists and legal scholars began exploring if federal systems were good or bad for women in reference to their ability to make claims against the state, usually coming to the unsatisfying conclusion that ‘it depends’. Most of these early inquiries referred to older federations, such as Australia and Canada. A second wave of gender/federalism research started around 2000. Building on earlier inquiries, feminist scholars of federalism explored if and how federal systems were gendered and what this means for women’s advocacy, organization and citizenship. But they often failed to recognize the changing natures of federations and how actors such as women’s movements can reshape architectural arrangements and institutional opportunities.
Thomas O. Hueglin
Hueglin argues that federalism studies have remained undertheorized and that political theory has taken little notice of federalism as a normative proposition. He identifies four federalism-related concepts for further theoretical reflection: First, the idea of federalism offers a plural understanding of territorial identity that may contribute to a more complex understanding of self-determination; second, federalism comprises an ideational understanding of particular autonomy bounded in the universality of a common enterprise and protected by considerations of subsidiarity; third, a core principle of federalism, membership equality, invites reflection not only on the political legitimacy of majority rule, but also on the tension between the symmetry of equality and the asymmetry of diversity; fourth, the commitment to social solidarity embedded in the agreement to establish a federal union raises critical questions about the liberal separation of state and market. The chapter ends with the suggestion that democracy might learn from federalism.