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The Politics of Sexual Harassment
A Comparative Study of the United States, the European Union, and Germany

$42.99 (C)

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  • Date Published: February 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521609944

$ 42.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Sexual harassment, in particular in the workplace, is a controversial topic which often makes headline news. What accounts for the cross-national variation in laws, employer policies, and implementation of policies dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace? Why was the United States on the forefront of policy and legal solutions, and how did this affect politicization of sexual harassment in the European Union and its member states? Exploring the way sexual harassment has become a global issue, Kathrin Zippel draws on theories of comparative feminist policy, gender and welfare state regimes, and social movements to explore the distinct paths that the United States, the European Union and its member states, specifically Germany, have embarked on to address the issue. This comparison provides invaluable insights on the role of transnational movements in combatting sexual harassment, and on future efforts to implement the European Union Directive of 2002.

    • First book-length comparison of the politics of sexual harassment in the US and EU and its member states
    • Uniquely comprehensive in its coverage of the diffusion of sexual harassment from the US to the EU
    • Interdisciplinary in approach, contributing to comparative feminist policy studies, social movement studies, (feminist) transnational movements in particular, and EU studies
    Read more


    • Co-winner of the 2007 Victoria Schuck Award from the American Political Science Association - Women and Politics Section

    Reviews & endorsements

    "This smart, readable book raises the bar for principled feminist empirical engagement with 'hot button' gender policy issues such as sexual harassment. The case materials, comparative method, and engagement with theory are exemplary; the political analysis is nuanced and revelatory for researchers and activists alike. Dr Zippel's careful, impassioned argument should win over a wide and thoughtful audience on both sides of the Atlantic." --Lisa D. Brush, University of Pittsburgh, author of Gender and Governance

    "Far from being just an American problem or obsession, sexual harassment is a global problem, as this richly documented book so nicely demonstrates. But government responses are not the same everywhere; indeed the extent to which harassment is placed in relation to other forms of discrimination against women or seen as something that could happen to anyone is an important difference between the US and Germany, affecting how effectively the law can respond to various situations. The case of sexual harassment also illustrates the policy ping pong game between the EU and its member states, making this a valuable study even for those not interested in issues of discrimination." --Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    "The Politics of Sexual Harassment is an outstanding piece of research on the cutting-edge of comparative feminist policy studies. The quality of scholarship and analytical scope will appeal to a broad international audience, across a variety of disciplines, at undergraduate, graduate and scholarly levels." --Amy G. Mazur, Washington State University

    ''Kathrin Zippel's The Politics of Sexual Harrassment offers important theoretical insights in the context of a rich empirical study, and will prove compelling for political sociologists, political scientists, scholars of gender studies and of social movements alike. For over a decade, much of the most exciting work in these fields has investigated the contribution of politics to the constitution of gender relations, and Zippel's work mines this productive vein in innovative ways. Starting with the birth of a new concept, sexual harrassment, out of the ferment of feminist activism, Zippel traces how policies to deter sexual harrassment have been taken up as a goal by political actors in both Germany and the US: grass-roots and legal activists, policy-makers and legislators, and then employers and union officials. Zippel's thorough comparative approach to sexual harrassment is especially welcome, given both the complex character of this political change and the widespread assumption that culture alone explains national policy differences. Investigating the role of social movements, political organizations, legal systems and culture, the book provides a persuasive account for the different ways in which policies to combat sexual harrassment have become part of the fabric of everyday worklife - a stunning example of the power of feminist politics." --Ann Orloff, Northwestern University

    "Zippel's systematic analysis of the various legal systems, social movements, labor unions, political organizations, histories and cultures provides nuanced explanations and suggestions for effective redress. To date, this work provides the most comparative and rigorous scholarship on sexual harassment and the efforts to end it. Because Zippel challenges the conventional wisdom about this subject and social change, those already familiar with sexual harassment, public policy and women's movements will find this work a welcome addition to the literature."
    R. Amy Elman, Kalamazoo College, Mobilization

    “Zippel has written an impressively comprehensive, carefully researched, thoughtful, and important book that offers insights across fields and disciplines.” – Sally J. Kenney, University of Minnesota

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521609944
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Sexual harassment and gender equality
    2. Equality through litigation: sexual harassment in the United States
    3. Diffusion through supranational actors: sexual harassment in the European Union
    4. The political path of adoption: feminists and the German state
    5. 'Good Behavior Versus Mobbing': employer practices in Germany and the United States
    6. Social movements, institutions, and the politics of sexual harassment

  • Author

    Kathrin S. Zippel, Northeastern University, Boston
    Kathrin S. Zippel is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern University, Boston. She is also a visiting Assistant Professor in Social Studies at Harvard University.


    • Co-winner of the 2007 Victoria Schuck Award from the American Political Science Association - Women and Politics Section

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