Research approach: Civic constitutionalism. Constitution and basis for democratic gender relations in Europe.

Amidst the center of social scientific, humanistic, and cultural analysis, processes of Europeanization and globalization have raised the question of the constitution and the bases of European civil societies. At the same time the debates about the political, socio-moral and socio-cultural foundations of modern societies have also led to a critical reflection on the importance of gender and gender relations as a social and socio-constitutive peacekeeping power.
Against this background, "civil constitutionalism" is understood as a metaphor for the contours of a critical feminist theory of politics that conceptually and systematically brings into question gender and gender relations as discursive and practical constitutive resources of social and political orders. The subject of interest here is to analyze the continued existence and the transition of gender identities, cultures and framework of social actions in European societies, both in response to the institutionalization of new power relations and in their establishment by means of new forms of governance. In this context, the focus is primarily on the subject formations, on various mechanisms for inclusion and exclusion, on social processes of equality and inequality that originate from European and national policies, as well as on the social power relations that they constitute.
The analysis is based on an expanded understanding of the politics. This comes about in the research approach to civic constitutionalism from the conjoining of the concept of governmentality by Michel Foucault with socially centered approaches in political science. These include approaches by Hannah Arendt on the foundations of political dealings, the understanding of democracy by Alexis de Tocqueville, Carole Pateman’s analyses of the gender contract, Chantal Mouffe's approach to radical democracy, and the theory of hegemony by Antonio Gramsci.
From the basic assumptions that Foucault showed in his theory of governmentality, three methodological indications emerge for a feminist critical research program: (1) to develop a society-centered understanding of gender relations as power relations, (2) not to seek the gender relation primarily at the level of institutions and decisions of political actors, but in the effects of these policies on the areas of the public sphere (Arendt), the civil society (Tocqueville), the family private life (Pateman), and the discourse on citizenship and (3) to carry out an "ascending power analysis" based on the concept of hegemony (Gramsci) during the analysis of social gender relations.

From this methodological approach emerges a three step social science research program for the ZEUGS, which, particularly in the first two stages, is designed to be interdisciplinary, and in the third stage, predominately political science oriented.

Activities Implemented and In Progress:

1. Workshop
Workshop "Interdisciplinary Networking of Gender Studies" in the context of the laying the foundation for a Center for European Gender Studies (ZEUGS) on May 7, 2010 at the University of Muenster.

2. Interdisciplinary Lecture Series
Interdisciplinary gender college - gender and gender relations in scientific analysis. Lecture series at the University of Muenster in WS 2010/11 and SS 2011.

3. Research Team at the Graduate School of Politics at the Institute of Political Science
Interdisciplinary research team on the concept of  governmentality and its application – at the beginning of Winter Semester 2012/13.
Click here to go to the webpage of the research team on "governmentality" at the Graduate School of Politics at the University of Muenster.

4. Anthology
From the perspective of the disciplines. The scientific analysis of gender and gender relations. Westfälisches Dampfboot, Münster, 2012. (Prof. Dr. Gabriele Wilde and Stefanie Friedrich, M'phil).

5. Articles and Essays

Wilde, Gabriele/Abels, Gabriele: Problems with the legitimation of European statehood. Strategies for the European public sphere, in Bieling/Große Hüttmann (eds.) 2015: European Statehood: Between Crisis and Integration.

Wilde, Gabriele: Alexis de Tocqueville Revisited: Between the Centralization of Political Power, Civil Associations, and Gender Politics in the European Union, in: Freise, Matthias/Hallmann, Thorsten (Eds.) 2014: Modernizing Democracy. Associations and Associating in the 21st Century. Springer Publishing, New York, pp. 31-44.

Wilde, Gabriele: Civil society research from a gender perspective. The ambivalence of limitation and expansion of a political space of action, in: Zimmer, Annette/Simsa, Ruth (ed.) 2014: Quo Vadis? Research on participation, civil society organizations and their management, Springer VS, Wiesbaden, pp. 209-230.

Wilde, Gabriele: Supranational governmentality. The rearrangement of democratic gender relations by European labor market and employment policies, in: Abbas, Nabila/Förster, Annette/Richter, Emanuel (Eds.) 2014: Supranationalism and democracy. Series "State Sovereignty and Nation," ed. by Rüdiger Voigt and Samuel Salzborn. VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Wilde, Gabriele: European Equality Standards: Neoliberal policies or post-neoliberal opportunity for democratic gender relations? in: Law School. Journal of Critique, Law, Society. Joint issue with the journal Critical Justice on the topic: Post-neoliberal legal system? Search processes in the crisis, No. 4/2010, pp. 449-464.