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Conservatism and Women's Political Representation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 April 2018

Karen Celis
Affiliation:
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Sarah Childs
Affiliation:
Birkbeck, University of London

Abstract

Conservative political actors appear rather troubling for many gender and politics scholars and feminist activists. What should we make of their claims to represent women? How should we best understand their actions? This article, based on a critical rereading of the empirical literature and informed by contemporary representation theory, develops a new conceptual framework for assessing the quality of women's substantive representation by conservatives. We find that under specified conditions, conservative representatives do further women's substantive representation. A first set of conditions relates to conservative claims to represent women. These are considered to be “for women” when they marry conservative women's concerns in society; when conservative representatives act and do not simply engage in rhetoric; and when their actions are not undercut by other acts, policies, or outcomes unfavorable to women. A second set of criteria considers the quality of the process of women's substantive representation. We contend that a feminist process of deliberation about women's interests can include conservative claims as long as they meet the requirements of responsiveness, inclusiveness, and egalitarianism.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2018 

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