The first phase of the project is the collection and qualitative / descriptive analysis of the findings from research on more than 100 policy debates in 15 countries and at the European Union level, occurring between 1970 and 2000. All data is being collected according to a common research design (see RNGS project description developed in collaboration with scholars in the RNGS network. Six edited books—one on each of the issue areas covered by the project (job training, abortion, prostitution, political representation, and a hot issue)—and a capstone book will present the qualitative form of the information through descriptive analysis of the project’s hypotheses. See specific descriptions below for each issue network. Two of these books were published in 2001; one in 2004 and two in 2005-6. The capstone book will appear in 2008. For more on issue network see below under this rubric. For more on the capstone book, go to capstone.
The design of this study purposefully uses the policy debate as the unit of analysis, and not the nation state. This reflects the trend in comparative public policy that identifies sectoral level dynamics as being just as, if not more, important as national determinants in explaining variations in policy formation. The RNGS group conceptualized the universe of policy debates in terms of four policy areas that touch upon major areas of gender relations—work, sexuality, reproduction, and citizenship. Specific policy areas in each of these four sectors were selected to be studied—job training, prostitution, abortion and political representation. The group selected a fifth area to determine whether women’s movements and women’s policy agencies have any impact on non gendered policy areas of great national significance—the “hot issue.”
Country researchers were asked to select three debates in which to study the interface between movement and agency for each of the four gendered areas in their country using sampling criteria determined by the group. For the hot issue, researchers selected one debate. The table below shows the distribution of the qualitative studies that were conducted by country and by policy area. In addition to these, studies were conducted on Israel for prostitution and on Japan for political representation.