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Women and States


  • Page extent: 260 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.35 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521745918)

Momentous changes in the relation between women and the state have advanced women's status around the globe. Women were barred from public affairs a century ago, yet almost every state now recognizes equal voting rights and exhibits a national policy bureau for the advancement of women. Sex quotas for national legislatures are increasingly common. Ann E. Towns explains these changes by providing a novel account of how norms work in international society. She argues that norms don't just provide standards for states, they rank them, providing comparative judgments which place states in hierarchical social orders. This focus on the link between norms and ranking hierarchies helps to account better for how a new policy, such as equality for women in public life, is spread around the world. Women and States thus offers a new view of the relationship between women and the state, and of the influence of norms in international politics.

• Studies a phenomenon which few scholars have analysed: the global transformation of women's place in public life over the last 100 years • Explains this world-wide change through a new account of how norms work in international politics • Will appeal to gender/women's studies scholars, as well as international relations students


Tables; 1. Introduction; 2. Constructivism and worldwide changes in state policy; 3. A complex society of norms and social hierarchies; 4. Excluding women in the society of civilized states; 5. Women's suffrage and the standards of civilization; 6. National women's policy bureaus and the standards of development; 7. Legislature sex quotas and cultural rank; 8. Conclusion.


'In this outstanding book Ann Towns provides a definitive account of generally under-acknowledged sea changes in the incorporation of women in the state. Especially noteworthy is Towns' compelling demonstration of the productive power of international norms. This will be required reading for constructivists, critical scholars of hierarchy in international society, and all concerned with women and politics/governance.' Raymond Duvall, University of Minnesota

'In one century, civilised states excluded women; in the next, they included them. Ann Towns delivers a cutting-edge empirical analysis of how gendering has led to a hierarchy of states.' Iver B. Neumann, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

'The study's innovative theorization of international norms as social hierarchies distinguishes Women and States as a work that can bridge conceptual gaps between academics and practitioners.' Shirin Saeidi, Recent Books on Ethics and International Affairs

'… her welcome contribution to the literature is found in the explication of feminist scholarship as related to the constructivist IR scholarship to understand norms.' Kristen P. Williams, International Studies Review

'In this fiercely original book, Ann E. Towns offers a novel understanding of change in international politics.' Jelena Subotic, Journal of Politics

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