Beneath the spectacle: gendering 'the everyday' in the British House of Commons

Miller, Cherry Marie (2018). Beneath the spectacle: gendering 'the everyday' in the British House of Commons. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis sets out to look at the operation of gender ‘beneath the spectacle’ in the British House of Commons. It develops a ‘fleshed-out’ analytical framework combining Judith Butler’s (2011) theory of gender performativity with Feminist Discursive Institutionalism to analyse the operation of gender across three sets of institutional actors. Following Waylen’s (2015) call for a gender audit of the ‘male domination’ of British institutions of democracy, it applies a gender lens to analyse everyday working practices in the British House of Commons. It conceives of ‘male’ domination as performative, inherently tenuous, and incessantly repeated every day.

The thesis combines this analytic framework with ethnographic methodology based on four and a half months of field work in the 2010-2015 Parliament and 68 semi-structured interviews, to explore and analyse the complex interaction between institutional rules, gender(ed) norms and gender(ed) identity. It finds that gender(ed) identity is scripted across three ‘discursive institutions’: the career cycle, citizenship and public service, where sex/gender hierarchies are reproduced. It argues that rather than adopting a binary conception of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ interactional styles, different institutional contingencies make different performances of gender more likely, though they are not determining. As such, the thesis presents a rich analysis of gender performance and finds considerable contingency, mosaicism and overlap. Finally, the thesis finds significant obstacles that must be overcome in order to ‘undo’ patterns of (dis)advantage within current institutional arrangements.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain


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