Why we are introducing new inclusivity and diversity guidelines for the SPERI blog

Through our new guidelines we aim to help political economy become a more diverse and inclusive intellectual discipline

Diversity is an aspect of, and more precisely a precondition for, academic excellence and social justice.” Wekker et al, 2016:21 

Like all researchers, we want to better understand how the world works. But for too long, academia, including our own field of political economy, has overlooked and marginalised voices and perspectives that can help to explain what is happening and why. We start this blog with the above quote from Gloria Wekker et al because it simply captures why change is necessary. Structural inequalities relating to gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability shape the demographic make-up of Higher Education—i.e. who does research and for whom—and the epistemological foundations of academic inquiry—i.e. what types of knowledge are produced and about what. Recognising and addressing these inequalities is essential, not just in terms of creating a more diverse and inclusive research environment, but in order to produce the kind of knowledge we need to understand and improve the world around us.

Research shows that the field of political economy has persistent gaps in citations, especially in regard to axes of gender and race. Studies (Maliniak, Powers and Walter, 2013; Dion, Sumner and Mitchell, 2018; Savonick and Davidson, 2015) document how the scholarship of female academics is consistently and routinely under-cited. Malianiak, Powers and Walter (2013), for example, found that where fields are heavily dominated by men, such as international political economy (IPE) is, women receive significantly fewer citations and less exposure for their scholarship. These practices undergird and fuel inequality within academia more broadly, as this APSA report outlines. Another study found that women scholars and scholars of colour are cited by their colleagues less frequently than would be expected given their representation in the field (Fraga et al 2011)  and scholars have shown that research on issues such as race, migration, gender and sexuality are not currently adequately represented in leading journals in political science (for example, see this 2018 article by Mügge, Montoya, Emejulu and Weldon). These findings substantiate and build on long-standing critiques from feminist IPE scholars, who have set out how the field is “gender-blind” and how scholarship on gender remains marginalized within its leading publications (Elias and Roberts 2018).

This is not to suggest that no progress has been made. In political economy, we are seeing greater recognition for and priority being given to aspects of political economy and capitalism that historically have tended to be neglected or marginalised, including race, migration, gender, sexuality, inequality, intersectionality, and the environment.  These were key areas of focus at the ‘Political Economy On Trial’ workshop, hosted by SPERI last year, which was jointly organised by the two leading journals in our field, New Political Economy and the Review of International Political Economy. Yet it is also important to recognise that whilst these areas of scholarship may have been historically marginalised, they are not new. Feminist political economists, as well as scholars from a range of other theoretical and epistemological traditions, such as postcolonial studies, critical race studies, critical disability studies, queer theory, and Black feminist thought, have been shedding light on the myriad ways in which inequalities, oppression, and exploitation are both embedded within and reproduced through the contemporary global economy for many decades.

At this moment of change in the world and in our field, we want to help foster a more diverse and inclusive intellectual discipline of political economy. One way that we’ll seek to do this over the coming year is through the SPERI blog. By using our blog to showcase work from a diverse range of scholars on a diverse range of topics, our aim is to help to illuminate different parts of global political economy and gain new insights from some of the most exciting work taking place in the field. To put this into practice,  SPERI has chosen to adopt a new set of guidelines for our blog. Below, we offer more detail on three aspects of the new guidelines:

Content

We want to ensure that the SPERI blog is reflective of a broad range of perspectives and topics in the field of political economy. By actively seeking to promote work that expands the horizons of new political economy we aim to showcase academic research that examines marginalised or neglected aspects of political economy and capitalism. As always, we are keen to publish new blogs that connect with, challenge and build on SPERI’s  four priority research areas.

Citation Practices  

As highlighted above, we believe citation practices are an important part of creating a just and inclusive field. This agenda is also being taken up by leading journals in our field, in recognition of the growing evidence base on inequalities in citation practices.  Given our role in publishing political economy blogs, we want to help to set a positive example. This is why our guidelines now encourage all contributing authors to the SPERI blog to engage with the literature of authors from a diversity of backgrounds and to examine their references in light of the patterns in citations identified above.

Diversity of Contributing Authors 

Through the SPERI blog we want to showcase the work and ideas of a diverse range of researchers. Since our blog started in 2012 we have published more blogs from men than women, which reflects prevailing demographics in our field. We now want to use the blog to showcase more women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQI community, academics from the global South, and people from working class and other marginalised backgrounds. We also want to keep supporting early career researchers by giving them a platform to showcase their research and help them to establish themselves within the research community. By being aware of the diversity of contributing authors, we hope to avoid reproducing inequalities of opportunity for scholars in the field of political economy and in academia more generally. 

SPERI’s commitment to a more inclusive field of political economy certainly doesn’t end with our new blog guidelines. But we hope this new policy will make a positive contribution to our discipline and to academia more generally. If you are interested in contributing to our blog, please read our guidelines and submit proposals and contributions to the editor Natalie Langford