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Sex and the State


  • 2 b/w illus. 16 tables
  • Page extent: 232 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.51 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.85/098
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HQ590 .H78 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Family policy--Argentina
    • Family policy--Brazil
    • Family policy--Chile
    • Sex role--Argentina
    • Sex role--Brazil

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521810494 | ISBN-10: 0521810493)

DOI: 10.2277/0521810493

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 (Stock level updated: 02:21 GMT, 10 October 2015)


Abortion, divorce, and the family: how did the state make policy decisions in these areas in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile during the last third of the twentieth century? As the three countries transitioned from democratic to authoritarian forms of government (and back), they confronted challenges posed by the rise of the feminist movement, social changes, and the power of the Catholic Church. The results were often surprising: women's rights were expanded under military dictatorships, divorce was legalized in authoritarian Brazil but not in democratic Chile, and no Latin American country changed its laws on abortion. Sex and the State explores these patterns of gender-related policy reform and shows how they mattered for the peoples of Latin America and for a broader understanding of the logic behind the state's role in shaping private lives and gender relations everywhere.

• The book explores why and how conservative, authoritarian military governments expanded women's rights • The book explains why divorce remains illegal in Chile, 13 years after the return to democratic government • The book explains why no Latin American democracy has been able to legalize abortion in spite of high birth rates and feminist pressure


1. Sex and the state in Latin America; 2. Four normative traditions; 3. Reforming women's rights under military dictatorships; 4. Church and state in the struggle for divorce; 5. Completing the agenda: family equality and democratic politics; 6. Why hasn't abortion been liberalized in Latin America?


'This book is a theoretically sophisticated and empirically complex piece of work that demonstrates comparative politics at its best … Few if any comparative analysis of this kind have been attempted to date. Htun is to be congratulated for producing a well-written, innovative and theoretically engaging book that helps to gender comparative politics.' Political Studies Review

'… a substantial contribution to our understanding of the politics surrounding specific women's rights. Moreover, the book is relevant not only to scholars specialized in gender and Latin America, or to area specialists … but also to scholars … interested in gender and politics more generally. it will be a very welcome addition to nay collection of texts on gender and politics.' International Feminist Journal of Politics

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