Gender, legitimacy and the local: a study of elected and unelected political representation

Regan, Susan Fleur (2019) Gender, legitimacy and the local: a study of elected and unelected political representation. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with gender and legitimacy in political representation.
This work contributes to the field of politics and gender, through an in-depth examination of political representation at the local level which is under-researched. The study focuses on elected and unelected local representatives, in a study site where elected women have achieved ‘gender balance’, as in equal numerical representation (50% of the seats) at council level. It analyses their experiences and perspectives, and those of their peers (elected men, and unelected women) in order to identify gender dimensions and explore the concept of legitimacy.
It is based on original qualitative data collected using semi-structured interviews with elected and unelected representatives, at the local level. Secondary data collection has been used to supplement the interview data.
The research finds that the legitimacy of unelected and elected women in representative positions at the local level is contested; that gender is a factor in the relationships between the representatives and the represented; and that there are gender dimensions which affect the representational work of both elected and unelected women. It also finds that there are dynamic inter-connections between elected and unelected women which enable the representatives to better navigate the complex ‘geometry of representation’ at the local level.
The research is important because it contributes to current debates regarding the legitimacy of women as both elected and non-elected representatives, and because it sheds light on gendered dimensions of local level political representation, at a time when ‘gender balance’ and the legitimacy of women in public life, are of contemporary interest.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: political legitimation, women politicians, community or informal representation, local government, gender asymmetry in representative politics
Subjects: L200 Politics
L300 Sociology
L700 Human and Social Geography
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 10:47
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2020 11:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42050

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