By Andrea Lynn A young academic field that links gender studies and politics has given birth to a journal. The first issue of Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society was published in March by the UI Press. The English-language journal, to be published three times a year, becomes the first "international forum for sharing research in the expanding field of social politics," says Sonya Michel, a co-editor of the journal. According to Michel, a UI professor of history, journal articles will examine "the role of states in constructing and organizing gender relations in the family, workplace and society." To facilitate debate, the co-editors set up an on-line electronic discussion group, SOCPOL-L, accessible via computer links such as the Internet, the world's largest network connecting other computer networks. Michel said discussion group members already have shared bibliographical references, information on upcoming conferences and news from the United States and elsewhere. The first issue of Social Politics looks at dependency and independence in the welfare systems of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. In the article on the United States, Nancy Fraser, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, and Linda Gordon, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, show how unreflective mainstream uses of the word dependency, which they call "the single most crucial term in the current U.S. debate about welfare reform," can fix its meaning in people's minds, usually to the advantage of dominant groups. Future issues will focus on the impact of free-trade agreements and other changes in global economic policy on women's labor-force participation; the gender dimensions of ethnic and racial tensions in Europe and elsewhere; and gender, democracy and political participation. The journal, which should appeal to economists, historians, law scholars, political scientists and sociologists, has two editorial bases: one at the Center for Women's Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden, and the other housed jointly at the UI at Urbana-Champaign and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Contemporary events spurred the creation of the journal, Michel said. "As women all over the globe have become more and more involved in making political decisions and in formulating policy, and as scholars have become more and more aware of the ways in which women are being affected by public policy, a tremendous amount of research has accumulated on how private life is affected by the state in different societies," Michel said. The editors felt it was time to bring together this "critical mass" of work and to make it available to scholars all over the world. "The more people know about the social policies that are being developed in other countries, the more they can use that to help shape policy in their own country," said Michel, who last year co-edited the book, "Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States."