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    Gendering political leadership: a case study of the UK, examining media and voter perceptions

    Smith, Jessica (2019) Gendering political leadership: a case study of the UK, examining media and voter perceptions. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The central research question of this thesis is: Are perceptions of political leadership gendered, and if so, how? The thesis examines both the different ways, and extent to which, the concept of political leadership is gendered and how this gendering is context specific via an examination of the UK case. Gendered norms are dynamic and vary over time and place, yet, much of the extant literature on gender stereotypes and leader evaluations takes a somewhat static approach to theorising how gender mediates political leadership and pays too little attention to cultural and political context. This runs counter to recent work within the ‘interactionalist’ paradigm in the wider study of political leadership, which privileges context in determining the effectiveness of leaders. This thesis takes a twin-track method to examine in-depth, firstly, the media’s representations of men and women political leaders, both in the contemporary context and over time, and, secondly, voter perceptions of British political leadership using innovative experimental methods. It offers the first comprehensive and methodologically nuanced account of gender’s role in political leadership in the UK context. The two methods work in synergy to reveal nuances and complexities in the gendering of political leadership in the British case. The analysis supports the thesis’ original claim: that gendering is complex; that context is important; and that a primarily US-based body of literature does not necessarily, or easily, travel to the UK context. Moreover, gendering was found to vary between media and voters, over time, and potentially between demographic groups of voters. A systematic analysis of the British case offers an opportunity to contribute to, and critically engage with, current gendered and non-gendered debates on political leadership and increases our understanding of the complex gendered environment in which leaders operate.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 13:23
    Last Modified: 11 Jun 2021 13:57


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