Skip to main content

Towards Intersectional and Interdisciplinary Approaches to LGBTQ Politics


By: Marla Brettschneider, University of New Hampshire Susan Burgess, Ohio University and Cricket Keating, University of Washington 



Teaching a course on LGBTQ politics?  Want to think together about teaching resources and strategies?  You’ve got every reason to check out our new edited collection, and our teaching collective.

The advance of civil rights for LGBTQ people is one of the most significant sociolegal changes that has taken place in the last two decades. Sociolegal work must grapple with the shifting landscape of LGBTQ rights and inclusion. An intersectional framework that addresses identities as co-created best illuminates changes. Developed over the past two decades primarily by feminists of color, this approach underscores the analytic importance of systems of power such as race, sexuality, gender, class, amongst others, and the importance of building movements that address such interconnections.

Social media have enlivened movements for sociolegal change. Some have lauded how  digital technologies have widened conversations, facilitated organizing, and information sharing across time and place.  Others have warned that social media activism risks becoming armchair politics.  Environmental crisis and climate change have led activists to organize at the grass roots and press for change through institutional channels globally.  The Occupy movement has prompted a rethinking of questions of economic justice.  In the United States, a vibrant Black Lives Matter has drawn international attention for its vital work against police brutality and other forms of persistent racial inequality. Intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of politics are vital in order to analyze why progressive movements emerge and how they can be sustained.
We’ve undertaken two major projects to explore the place of LGBTQ movements as social movements develop social media strategies, and intersectional critiques spread.  First, we’ve put together an interdisciplinary collection of original essays called LGBTQ Politics: A Critical Reader released earlier this month at NYU Press. The reader analyzes both the successes and obstacles to building the LGBTQ movement over the past twenty years,. Law has constituted claims organizations have made, so sociolegal scholars will find provocative essays on activism, coalition building, community, education, erotics, technology, marriage and families, globalism, intersections with other progressive movements, public opinion, organizational strategies, and conservative resistance.  Analyses focused on institutional and elite politics appear alongside contributions grounded in grassroots movements and critical theory.  The collection includes essays by Heath Davis, who addresses transgender discrimination and single sex colleges, Miriam Smith who analyzes homonationalism in comparative context,  Jerry Thomas who offers a queer take on same-sex marriage, and Ellen Andersen who argues that sociolegal context affects the decision of same-sex couples to marry.  Some essays celebrate the movement’s successes and prospects.  Others express concerns that its democratic basis has become undermined by a focus on funding power over people power, attempts to fragment the LGBTQ movement from movements for racial, gender and class justice, The longstanding question in studies of US interest group politics concerning  persistent attachment to single-issue politics also is a subject for reflection.

Secondly, we’re organizing a teaching collective on LGBTQ politics and related issues.  Faculty from various universities and colleges will be sharing resources, ideas, and approaches. Many of the folks in the collective will be teaching LGBTQ politics (or a related course) in Spring 2018, in a collaborative effort that we hope will be ongoing.   If you’d like to receive more information about the collective, shoot Marla Brettschneider an email at Marla.Brettschneider@unh.edu

Popular posts from this blog

Europeanization or National Specificity? Legal Approaches to Sexual Harassment in France, 2002–2012

By Abigail Saguy, UCLA

Sexual harassment represents a massive problem for working women worldwide. A recent social media campaign has brought increased awareness to this fact. In late 2017—after three-dozen women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault, or rape—millions of women posted “Me Too” on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Taking inspiration from African American activist Tarana Burke—who, in 2007, started an offline “Me Too” campaign to let sex abuse survivors know that they were not alone—actress Alyssa Milano launched this online Me Too campaign to shift the focus from Weinstein to victims. She hoped this would “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”[1] While some posted simply, “Me Too,” others provided wrenching detail about abuse they had sometimes never before shared publicly. In France, a similar social media campaign flourished, under the hashtag “balance ton porc,” loosely translated as “sq…

Comment: Making valid claims in social science research: A comment on Jenness and Calavita

By Tom Tyler, Yale Law School

I am writing to comment on several methodological issues raised by the article by Valerie Jenness and Kitty Calavita, entitled “It depends on the outcome”: Prisoners, grievances, and perceptions of justice”. I am pleased that the methodology blog for Law and Society Review has been created and provides a forum to discuss research design issues. I will address three aspects of the study: operationalization of the variables; statistical analysis; and inclusiveness of the literature review.

The Jenness/Calavita paper studies California prisons using data collected through interviews with prisoners. The paper says that it tests the perceptual procedural justice model, in particular there are frequent references to the Tyler model, in a prison setting. The study concludes that “prisoners privilege the actual outcome of disputes as their barometer of justice” showing “the dominance of substantive outcomes” (from the abstract)”.

I agree with Jenness and Cala…

Boiling in the Cells: Prisoners, Grievances, and Substantive Justice

By Valerie Jennessand Kitty Calavita University of California, Irvine Department of Criminology, Law and Society