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   Course Title    Gender Gap in Political Culture in Latvia
Lecturer    Liene Caplinska
Institution    Latvian University
Country    Latvian


The Aim of the Course

This course is prepared for Bachelor students of the University of Latvia who are studying social sciences (especially politics and sociology) and are interested in gender issues.

The main aim of the course is to acquaint students with the comparatively new phenomenon in political science - gender gap, to create positive thinking on gender issues in politics.

Simultaneously the course will be turned to the development of the students' analytic thinking and the skills needed for making independent decisions and doing a creative work.

Role of the Course in the Overall Degree Curriculum

There has not been an attempt to integrate a gender perspective into teaching political and social sciences in the Department of Sociology. The course "Gender Gap in Political Culture in Latvia" will be of a great value in the introduction to students with gender issues in the context of sociology and politics.

Methods Used

The pedagogical approaches used in the course will be:

  • teaching lectures on the introduction to the concept of the gender gap, the historical review on political theory from the feminist perspective, gender and political interests;

  • discussions-seminars on the distributed materials about gender differences in political attitudes and voting, gender politics in post-communist countries and gender gap in Latvia;

  • individual work - paper on the briefly chosen theme in the context of the course.

Course Content

1. lecture. Introduction to the concept of the gender gap. Its components: gender differences in participation, in attitudes, in party identification and in voting.

The lecture will be on the concept of "gender gap" which has appeared only in 1980's when political scientists first paid special attention to the gender differences in voting during the presidential election in the USA (1980) when the support for Ronald Reagan was found to be significantly stronger among men than among women. Since then it has studied not only women' s political behaviour, but also their political attitudes and interests.

2.,3. lecture. The historical review on political theory from the feminist perspective.

Although gender gap is an empirical question the course will contain a theoretical view on this political issue - a revision of political theory with gender as an analytic category.

4.lecture. Gender and participation in politics. Presentation of the Students' Reports.

The differences in participation in politics are influenced by sex-role socialisation, structural factors and situational factors. In the lecture each of these elements will be discussed and analysed.

5.lecture. Gender and political interests. Presentation of the Students' Reports.

The lecture will be directed towards women and men as interest groups. Some of the differences: women become more liberal on issues relating to social programs and economic security, at the same time they have shown more humanitarian, social and welfare oriented attitudes. Women have also tended to be less supportive of militarian or aggressive action in foreign affairs than men.

6.lecture. Gender and party identification on the scale of left-right ideologies. Presentation of the Students' Reports.

The lecture will be on the analysis of the results of the research on gender differences in party identification. The answer will be looked to the question what factors influence women' s ideological orientation.

7.lecture. Gender and political behaviour in election. Presentation of the Students' Reports.

Are men and women becoming more alike in political behaviour? The lecture will be dedicated to the discussion of men' s and women's differences and similarities in political behaviour and attitudes.

8.lecture. The Gender Gap in Post-Communist countries.

The lecture will focus on the rise of masculinism in Eastern Europe as the primary characteristic of gender relations in Eastern Europe today, on the political representation, when all parliaments of the former Soviet block are made far more exclusively male institutions than had been the case previously, and on mechanisms of marginalization.

The problem rises from interdicting opportunities to expand women's autonomy and their own interests, that stimulates their subordination within the family, their destructiveness and aggressiveness in relationship with other individuals.

9.lecture. Analysis of Gender Differences in Political Attitudes and Behaviour in Latvia in Comparison with Nordic Countries. Presentation of the Students' Reports.

There will be an empirical information about the situation in Latvia, its comparison with Nordic countries where studies of gender gap have been carried out for a comparatively long time.

10. lecture. Conclusion: Discussion on the theme - Is there any gender gap in Latvia?

The analytic view on the question - Is there any gender gap in Latvia? - will be raised in discussions with students relying on the empirical material, gathered in Latvia.

Readings

A Mandatory

  1. Einhorn, B.(1993). "Where Have All the Women Gone? Politics and Participation". In Cinderella Goes to Market. London, Verso: p. 148-181.

  2. Jones, K.B. (1988). "Towards the Revision of Politics". In The Political Interests of Gender: Developing Theory Research with a Feminist Face. Ed. by Kathleen B. Jones and G. Jonasdottir. London, Sage: p. 11- 32.

  3. Women in Nordic Politics: Closing the Gap. (1995). Ed. by Lauri Karvonen and Per Selle. England, Dartmouth P.C.L., p. 41-56.

  4. Data gathered by Baltic Data house from 1991-1998.

B Recommended

  1. Conover,P.J. (1988). Feminists and the Gender Gap. In Journal of Politics, Vol.50, No 4:985-1010

  2. Jordan, G., and, C. Weeden (1995). Cultural Politics: Class, Gender, Race and the Postmodern World. Blackwell Publishers, UK, 624 p.

  3. Steen, A.(1998). Regime Legitimacy in Post-Communist Countries: A Comparative Analysis of Mass Attitudes in the Baltic States 1992-1997. Research Report. University of Oslo, 67 p.

  4. The Political Interests of Gender: Developing Theory Research with a Feminist Face. (1988). Ed. by Kathleen B. Jones and G. Jonasdottir. London, Sage: 320 p.

  5. The Politics of The Gender Gap. (1988). Ed. by Mueller, C.M. California: Sage Publications, 316 p.

Assessment

The course will be the first try to introduce students to gender issues in the specific context. And the problem can arise at the beginning of the teaching when the feminist perspective itself will be not known rather well. Therefore the first lecture may take the shape of students' introduction to feminism.



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