Political equality for women and the poor: Assessing the effects and limits of world society, 1975-2010
Cole, W. M., & Perrier, G. (2019). Political equality for women and the poor: Assessing the effects and limits
of world society, 1975–2010. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 0020715219831422. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020715219831422
Empirical tests of world society theory routinely analyze the effects of country-level linkages to international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) on countries’ policies and practices. Analysts regard INGOs as “conveyor belts” that transport cultural models and scripts to countries around the globe. We modify this mechanistic interpretation by shifting focus to the broader institutional and cultural environments in which INGOs operate. Using data for an unbalanced panel of 126 countries between 1975 and 2010, we examine the effect of INGO linkages on the distribution of political power by gender and socioeconomic status. We find that INGOs are much stronger predictors of political equality for women than for the poor, and we argue that these differential effects reflect broader world-cultural conditions. Women’s rights are highly institutionalized in world society, which enhances the effectiveness of INGOs. Socioeconomic rights discourses, conversely, are comparatively less institutionalized and more contested, especially following the neoliberal turn.