Chapter

Feminist presence and women's descriptive representation

Evans Elizabeth

in Women and the Liberal Democrats

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719083471
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702277 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719083471.003.0003
Feminist presence and women's descriptive representation

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Research has highlighted that a feminist presence is often critical to bringing about gendered changes within political parties, particularly vis-à-vis campaigns for women's increased descriptive representation. This chapter explores the extent to which feminists and feminist attitudes are influential or marginalised within the Liberal Democrats, a party which has a masculine bias embedded in its culture, organisation, and ideology. It addresses four themes: the level of feminist presence within the party; attitudes towards issues surrounding women's descriptive representation; the perceived effectiveness of the strategies adopted by the party to increase women's representation; and where the party might be located within a typological framework of feminist parties. Data from the British Election Study 2005 are included, where appropriate, to offer cross-party comparison of women's attitudes towards increasing the number of women MPs. Interviews conducted with Liberal Democrat women revealed nervousness amongst some respondents regarding the conceptualisation of feminism. This chapter also looks at Lovenduski's three-tiered strategic approach, that political parties adopt to increase women's descriptive representation: equality rhetoric, equality promotion, and equality guarantees.

Keywords: Liberal Democrats; women MPs; descriptive representation; feminism; political parties; attitudes; equality rhetoric; equality promotion; equality guarantees

Chapter.  10023 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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