In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Feminist Political Thought

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Handbooks and Surveys
  • Forerunners
  • History of Political Thought
  • Feminist Historical Materialism and Standpoint Theory
  • Female Bodies and Corporeality
  • Feminist New Materialisms
  • Sex(ual) Difference and Ethics of Care
  • Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Politics
  • Identity, Difference, and Intersectionality
  • Queering Gender, Displacing the Subject
  • Liberal Feminisms and Multiculturalism
  • Critical Theory: Critiques and Appropriations
  • Gendering Justice
  • Law, Rights, Contracts
  • Masculine Domination and Critiques of the State
  • Theorizing Democracy
  • Politics and Feminist Freedom
  • Violence, War, and Mourning
  • Eurocentrism, Colonialism, and Empire

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Political Science Feminist Political Thought
Mary G. Dietz, Lucy Cane
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 July 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0234


Feminist political thought is a capacious term that for these purposes includes works pertaining not only to the fields of “political theory” (in political science) and “political philosophy” (in philosophy) but also to writings generally designated under the rubric of “feminist theory” or “feminist studies” that address politics and political systems, structures, and relations by problematizing gender, sex, sexual difference, and sexuality. If it is not remotely possible to argue that all political thought is “feminist,” it is surely the case that almost all feminist thought is in some palpable sense “political,” insofar as it emerges in academia from out of historical and contemporary movements for women’s liberation and through critiques of gender inequality and patriarchal relations of power and domination. Yet at the same time the term “feminist” is impossible to define with any specificity, given the differences and divisions that constitute it as a multifaceted academic field propelled by epistemological and political contestations over agency, subjectivity, identity, and power that trouble the very coherence of the terms “woman” and “women” themselves. Consequently, this bibliography takes a heterogeneous outlook on its subject matter rather than one that solely focuses “feminist” within the field of political theory, much less in terms of a particular methodology. Three additional notes: First, readers expecting the perhaps familiar designation of various ideological “isms” sometimes associated with the categorization of feminist political thought (e.g., “liberal”; “radical”; “socialist”; “anarchist”; “lesbian”; “eco”; “postmodern”; “posthuman”) will more often find instead categories that specify problems and instigate debates that often cross ideological rubrics and positions. Second, the organization of categories does not follow the standard designation of “first, second, and third waves,” opting instead for as many disruptions and displacements of those textbook conventions as possible. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that feminist political thought is enmeshed with other contemporary disciplinary knowledges and fields of inquiry (e.g., queer theory; new materialisms; masculinities; posthumanist orientations; critical race studies; queer of color critique; global ecologies; neoliberalism; postcolonial and transnational studies) in ways that require some attention to these intersections as well.


Although there are no academic journals that specialize exclusively in feminist political thought, articles in this area are regularly published in journals of feminist and women’s studies, which tend to be both multidisciplinary and diverse, in keeping with the genre of feminist scholarship in theoretical, conceptual, and text interpretive genres. Journals in these areas first appeared in 1972, with Feminist Studies and Women’s Studies Quarterly, followed shortly thereafter by Signs in 1975, generally considered the “flagship” journal of feminist studies. Among the more recently established journals, Hypatia is the most oriented toward varieties of feminist philosophy; while differences publishes work broadly related to cultural studies, literary studies, postmodern, continental, and Anglo-American feminist and queer theory; and Feminist Theory directs attention to women’s and gender studies as well as theoretical contestations and debates in feminism. The UK based Feminist Review has traditionally been concerned with theoretical, historical, and comparative political studies at the intersection of gender, race, and sexuality; Gender and Society is primarily directed toward sociological studies of women and gender but occasionally publishes theoretical work, much like the more recently arrived Politics and Gender, oriented primarily to political science research in gender studies. Among the highest ranked journals specializing in political theory, Political Theory publishes work in feminist political thought, but not as frequently as one might anticipate.

  • differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 1989–.

    This triannual journal was established in 1989 as a forum for critical exchange between European and American theories of difference and diversity. Though focused on gender, it engages categories of difference more broadly and includes scholarly articles from literary, visual, social, and political perspectives. The journal regularly offers special themed issues, often with guest editors.

  • Feminist Review. 1979–.

    Founded in 1979 in the United Kingdom, Feminist Review is a triannual, interdisciplinary journal of feminist thought. The journal has described itself as both feminist and socialist, and continues to emphasize the intersections of gender with class as well as race and sexuality. Creative writing, visual art, interviews, and activist reports appear alongside scholarly essays and book reviews.

  • Feminist Studies. 1972–.

    Founded in 1972 in New York City, Feminist Studies was the first scholarly journal in women’s studies. Now triannual, this interdisciplinary journal publishes creative writing, visual art, interviews, and activist reports alongside scholarly essays. A “News and Views” section responds to current events.

  • Feminist Theory. 2000–.

    Founded in 2000 in the United Kingdom, Feminist Theory is a triannual journal of scholarly articles, critical exchanges, and book reviews from the humanities and social sciences. It strives to showcase a broad range of political, theoretical, disciplinary approaches to feminist thought within the academy.

  • Gender and Society. 1987–.

    Gender and Society was founded in 1987 as an outlet for feminist social science and is the official journal of Sociologists for Women in Society, an international organization of social scientists. While the journal primary publishes empirical articles, it favors work that is theoretically engaged. Gender and Society is published bimonthly and its website also features podcasts, classroom resources, and a blog.

  • Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. 1986–.

    Hypatia was founded in 1986 as an attempt to promote diversity within the discipline of philosophy, providing a space for feminist articles and book reviews. While this quarterly journal is focused on philosophy, it also claims an interdisciplinary orientation and seeks to promote diversity within feminism. It is named after Hypatia of Alexandria, an ancient Greek philosopher.

  • Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy. 1973–.

    Political Theory publishes articles from a variety of theoretical approaches and methodologies in the field of political theory, including normative, analytical, historical, text interpretive, and contemporary critical and democratic theory, as well as feminist theory and feminist political thought (historical and contemporary). Founded in 1973, the journal is distinctive for its eclectic approach to theory and its location at the nexus of political science, philosophy, and the humanities.

  • Politics and Gender. 2005–.

    Primarily situated within the discipline of political science and founded in 2005, this journal specializes in mostly empirical, survey research, and case studies at the intersection of politics, gender, and women’s studies within the fields of American, comparative, and international politics. Attentive to theoretical and methodological debates in gender studies but less so to contestations within feminist political theory and interpretation of texts.

  • Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 1975–.

    Established in 1975, Signs is the leading journal of feminist thought in the United States. Through scholarly articles, critical exchanges, and book reviews it strives to cultivate new debates across disciplinary lines. In addition to the quarterly journal, Signs launched the “Feminist Public Intellectuals Project” online in 2015, which includes reviews of popular literature, interviews, and provocative engagements with emerging concepts.

  • Women’s Studies Quarterly. 1972–.

    Women’s Studies Quarterly is an interdisciplinary journal published by The Feminist Press in New York City. It first appeared in 1972 under the title Women’s Studies Newsletter. Now biannual, the journal publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and visual arts alongside scholarly essays and book reviews. A “Classics Revisited” section rereads an influential text with a response from the original author.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.