Book chapter

Feminist Studies and Parliaments

Published inHandbook of Parliamentary Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Legislatures, Editors Benoît Cyril & Rozenberg Olivier, p. 426-444
PublisherCheltenham : Edward Elgar
Publication date2020

From the end of the eighteenth century onwards, Europe saw a move towards democracy that was based on liberalism and parliamentarism. Issues of sovereignty and representation were at the heart of the democratic project, and ‘parliaments’ (or at least the lower houses supposed to represent the people) were central to these hopes and changes. Although feminist research has profoundly renewed our conception of the democratic agenda and our understanding of the extent to which it has actually been realised, both in normative and pragmatic terms, there has been little research focusing on the history or the anthropology of parliaments from the perspective of gender. At first, women’s exclusion from democracy was contrasted with historical and national narratives, as well as normative and practical models for defining universality and representation; it was only thereafter that the role of parliaments in the history of European democracies and the exclusion of women from national representation, legislative power and the public space were studied and analysed as such. And yet along with and besides the question of the ‘state’, ‘power’, ‘government’, and the ‘public sphere or space’ lies the crucial question of ‘parliament’ and legislative power as this relates specifically to each regime and country. In the French-speaking academic world, studies focusing on women’s roles and activities in deliberative and legislative assemblies only truly began at the end of the 1990s, accompanying and fuelling political debate on these issues (Achin and Bereni, 2013). This research engaged in dialogue with specialists in Legislative Studies, while also producing an increasing body of qualitative and ethnographic research focusing on internal diversity among MPs and the complex combination of factors that foster links between descriptive and substantive representation (Taylor-Robinson, 2014).

  • Gender
  • Parliament
  • History
  • Sociology
  • Parity
  • Representative bodies
  • Democracy
Citation (ISO format)
ACHIN, Catherine, GARDEY, Delphine. Feminist Studies and Parliaments. In: Handbook of Parliamentary Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Legislatures. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar, 2020. p. 426–444. doi: 10.4337/9781789906516.00034
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Book chapter (Published version)

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