Axis 2 - Politics, Care, Justice

Over the recent decades, gender studies have interrogated the very possibility, as well as the modes of, objectifying social forms of domination in a rigorously scientific manner. In this perspective, a large body of research is currently focusing on examining the question of gender in relation to other dimensions such as social class, race or ethnicity and sexual orientation. The changes affecting power relations are global and include, among others, a consideration of the migration processes and relationships between the North and the South. More broadly, gender allows us to question the categories of discrimination, oppression and domination, as well as the new forms they take as the result of various legal reforms and institutional interventions that explicitly seek to promote equality between men and women, e.g. the French law on gender equality (lois sur la parité).

Feminist struggles have questioned the very category of politics, by interrogating the limits of the private and the public and by introducing questions previously considered illegitimate. Some studies focus on the historical development of this process of restructuring, others look at how gender continues to affect the political — and politics — today. For example, they critique the implicit logic behind different state and social interventions; they explore the way in which social policies produce, distribute and legitimate different genders. At the same time, some researchers focus on the limits imposed by the political field, due to its traditional conception and practices, on gender as an object of discourse, of popular mobilisation or political demand. These studies analyse the expectations born by women in politics (whether institutional politics or activism) or the conditions of the mobilisation of gender identities in politics. They also look at the significance of the notion of "empowerment", the conditions necessary for the emergence and perception of a "female voice" or the way in which gender affects citizenship.

The theme of care has thus become a key aspect of thinking about justice and gender. Feminist theories of ethics have greatly contributed to the regeneration of ethics as a discipline and the ways of examining justice. Ethics of care focus on combining a philosophical reflection on justice with empirical research regarding the hierarchization of moral and political questions, which is itself linked to the systems of gender inequality existing in a broad range of domains. The complex meaning of the term "care", which should be understood as both an activity and a disposition, the two being historically assigned to a specific group — women — allows us to understand an object that is indissociably social, political and moral, and to understand the devaluation of this sphere of activity, which is considered as "private" or domestic, as well as the concepts and research associated with it. In recent years, the research on care has tried to articulate ideas about ethics (the nature of moral life, the rules governing attention and inattention, the place of the ordinary), inquired about the phenomena of domination at work in the allocation and perception of practical responsibilities, and focused on the sociology of feelings, sociology of work and sociology of migration.

It is also connected to thinking about health and ageing and, more generally, the relationships between different generations (see Axis 10).