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Politicians Under Threat: Gender Aspects of Violence against Political Representatives
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6084-0218
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
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 [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-500994ISBN: 978-91-513-1880-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-500994DiVA, id: diva2:1789597
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
List of papers
1. Do Women Pay a Higher Price for Power?: Gender Bias in Political Violence in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do Women Pay a Higher Price for Power?: Gender Bias in Political Violence in Sweden
2021 (English)In: Journal of Politics, ISSN 0022-3816, E-ISSN 1468-2508, Vol. 83, no 2, p. 515-531Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Violence and intimidation against politicians is gaining attention in research on obstacles to political gender equality, but we still do not know whether women experience more violence as politicians than men. This article provides the first comprehensive empirical analysis of physical and psychological gender-based violence against officeholders across the political hierarchy. Based on three waves of survey data on 8,000 local-level politicians in Sweden, I find that the most pronounced gender gap in violence exists among politicians high in the political hierarchy. Female mayors experience far more violence than any other politician. Further, there are indications that women receive a higher penalty than men for media visibility and for supporting minorities. This suggests that perpetrators of political violence are biased toward targeting women, particularly more powerful and visible women. The findings have important implications for understanding the personal price paid for holding positions of political power and how it differs by gender.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Chicago PressUniversity of Chicago Press, 2021
Keywords
political violence, gender and politics, women's representation, local government, violence against politicians, gender equality
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-445458 (URN)10.1086/709838 (DOI)000626183000001 ()
Available from: 2021-06-14 Created: 2021-06-14 Last updated: 2024-01-15Bibliographically approved
2. Explaining Citizen Hostility against Women Political Leaders: A Survey Experiment in the United States and Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Explaining Citizen Hostility against Women Political Leaders: A Survey Experiment in the United States and Sweden
2023 (English)In: Politics & Gender, ISSN 1743-923X, E-ISSN 1743-9248Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

We know that women politicians are harassed by constituents to a greater extent than men, but we know less about why this difference exists. This study tests potential drivers of hostility against women politicans using an original survey experiment with 7,500 respondents in the United States and Sweden. First, I test whether constituents hold more lenient attitudes toward hostility directed at women than men, which would make hostility in messages targeting women representatives more likely. Second, I test whether constituents prefer to direct their complaints to women, which would increase the risk of hostility by generating a higher number of angry contacts. Results from both countries show a preference for directing complaints to women representatives over men, but no evidence of more leniency toward hostility directed at women.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2023
Keywords
Violence against women in politics, gendered political violence
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-500995 (URN)10.1017/S1743923X23000144 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018-00703
Available from: 2023-05-01 Created: 2023-05-01 Last updated: 2023-08-21Bibliographically approved
3. The Gendered Representational Costs of Violence against Politicians
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Gendered Representational Costs of Violence against Politicians
2023 (English)In: Perspectives on Politics, ISSN 1537-5927, E-ISSN 1541-0986Article in journal (Refereed) In press
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
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-504236 (URN)
Available from: 2023-06-12 Created: 2023-06-12 Last updated: 2023-08-21

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