Journal article: Losing sight of women’s rights (again): A response to Cowan et al.

Scottish Affairs, Volume 30 Issue 1, Page 96-121
An open access copy is available here.

This article responds to Cowan et al.’s critique of our article ‘Losing sight of women’s rights: the unregulated introduction of gender self-identification as a case study of policy capture in Scotland’, published by Scottish Affairs 28(3) in August 2019. Cowan et al. make a series of strong criticisms, including of our accuracy, diligence and adherence to scholarly norms. We reject these as unreasonable. In our view, they misunderstand and misrepresent the fundamental purpose of our article, fail to engage with our core thesis of policy capture, and implausibly seek to place our view of the law beyond academic respectability. Their own strongly-asserted view of the law appears at least open to question. We argue that the problem is not with our scholarship falling below any normal acceptable standard, but rather that Cowan et al. appear to be uncomfortable with others holding and expressing any different view to theirs on this topic. They have therefore reached too quickly for assertions of incompetence or worse. We discuss the climate in which our original article was produced and in which we are now defending it. Describing our own experiences as well of those of other academics, we question how the scholarship needed to help shape policy and law in this area can take place under such conditions.

A longer version of this article, published on this website, can be accessed here.