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The Gendered Representational Costs of Violence against Politicians
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6084-0218
2023 (English)In: Perspectives on Politics, ISSN 1537-5927, E-ISSN 1541-0986, Vol. 22, no 1, p. 81-96Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Women face more harassment and intimidation as politicians than men, but little is known about how this affects representation. I develop a theoretical framework for studying the gendered costs of political violence for descriptive, substantive, and symbolic representation. Testing the framework using interview and survey data on Swedish women and men politicians, I uncover the costs of violence against politicians in all three dimensions empirically. Violence makes women more frequently than men consider leaving politics and enforces male-coded characteristics for political candidates, affecting prospects for gender-diverse descriptive representation. Substantive representation is harmed by violence silencing feminist debates and obstructing women politicians’ policy debate activities. Women’s symbolic representation is threatened by violence coercing women to decrease their visibility.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2023. Vol. 22, no 1, p. 81-96
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-504236DOI: 10.1017/S1537592723001913ISI: 001102029900001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-504236DiVA, id: diva2:1765908
Available from: 2023-06-12 Created: 2023-06-12 Last updated: 2024-05-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Politicians Under Threat: Gender Aspects of Violence against Political Representatives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Politicians Under Threat: Gender Aspects of Violence against Political Representatives
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates violence against politicians and its gender dimensions. Violence targeting elected representatives in the course of their work has received scant research attention, despite the central function of elected officials in representative democracy. Moreover, attacks on representatives of marginalized groups, such as women, carry symbolic meanings and can increase political alienation and distrust in the political system among women as a group. For these reasons, studying violence against politicians as specific actors, and how this violence may be gendered, is imperative.

The thesis’ first essay fills a significant research gap by providing the first large-scale empirical analysis of gender differences in exposure to violence among politicians in general and across the political hierarchy. It demonstrates that Swedish female politicians experience slightly more violence than male, and significantly more violence than male counterparts at powerful and visible positions. The second essay shifts the perspective from the experiences of politicians themselves, to the perpetrator side, and investigates constituents’ attitudes to contacting and harassing women and men politicians in the US and Sweden. The essay suggests that gendered stereotypes of women politicians and norms on gendered leadership styles is an important driver of women’s higher exposure to political harassment from constituents. Citizens prefer to contact women representatives over men when they are angry about a political decision and want to change it, which increases the likelihood of hostility directed at women representatives. The third essay systematically theorizes representational costs of violence against politicians, and investigates how Swedish women and men politicians’ representation is disrupted by violence. This essay shows that violence has subtle but wide-ranging gendered representational costs. It enforces masculine coded candidate ideals of toughness, makes women representatives decrease their visibility, and silences debates and individuals that challenge hegemonic male substantive dominance.

All in all, the thesis shows that violence against politicians amplifies women’s political marginalization, and disrupts representation at large and women’s representation in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2023. p. 90
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 214
Keywords
Violence against Politicians, Gender and Politics, Political Violence, Political Representation, Comparative Politics
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-500994 (URN)978-91-513-1880-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-10-20, Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-09-20 Created: 2023-08-21 Last updated: 2023-09-20

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Håkansson, Sandra

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