Politikens genusgränser: Den kvinnliga rösträttsrörelsen och kampen för kvinnors politiska medborgarskap, 1902-1921
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The gender of politics : The Nationonal Association for Women's Suffrage and Its Struggle for Women's Political Citizenship, 1902-1921 (English)
This thesis analyses Landsföreningen för kvinnans politiska rösträtt (‘The National Association for Women’s Franchise’, LKPR) and its struggle for women’s political rights in Sweden. The suffragists’ struggle is used as a “case study” for the purpose of uncovering the gender boundaries of politics, that is, what was possible in practice and what was considered suitable for men and women to do in politics in the early 20th century. The resistance and the various obstacles raised against women show that there were gender boundaries in politics that LKPR challenged and crossed by organizing women and making demands.
With the aid of theory and empiricism the thesis problemises seemingly gender-neutral concepts such as ‘democracy’ and ‘citizenship’ and shows that they have been permeated by conceptions of gender. The thesis has been influenced by for example the democracy researcher Birte Siim and has studied the franchise association’s attitude to citizenship as status, practice and identity. Throughout the thesis, LKPR’s attitude to the male power order in society is discussed.
The thesis describes how LKPR developed and how the association worked and argued in favour of women’s political rights. Even though there were many things that united the suffragists, there were also important differences of opinion. The issue of franchise brought the question of people’s right to influence and self-determination to a head, and the discussion showed that there were different opinions about how politics should be conducted and what politics should be about. The suffragists were for example not agreed on whether the association should work for political rights for everybody or only for some people. They also had different opinions about whether women should organise themselves separately or whether they should go in for joint organisation and cooperation with men. Not least did they have different opinions about what should be LKPR’s position as a party politically neutral women’s organisation vis-à-vis the male party system. LKPR’s orientation towards party politics both strengthened and weakened women as a group. Going in for adult education was however a strategy that most of them could support.
The thesis also elucidates LKPR’s argumentation in favour of civil rights and shows that it was marked by three overarching ideologies, namely liberalism, maternalism and nationalism. These –isms were partly interwoven and show that LKPR wanted not only to change the form of politics, that is, the rules for how politics was exercised and by whom, but also the content of politics. LKPR also wanted the boundaries of politics to be moved so that more questions would become government issues.
Citizenship was a key concept that in practice meant different things for women and men and the gender of politics varied depending on the context. The arena of municipal politics was first opened to women, and municipal politics was considered “more feminine” – while the county councils and the Swedish parliament were reserved for men and were considered “male” concerns. For a long time party politics was also regarded as a male domain, but this changed during the struggle for franchise. The fact that social policies were regarded as “feminine” was utilised by the suffragists to advance their positions.
The thesis shows that franchise and eligibility were embedded in somewhat different gender and class structures. Not least did the issue of eligibility show that there were different opinions about who should devote themselves to politics and who could represent whom. Changes in gender politics also took place during the process of democratisation, and my study shows that the gender boundaries were not rigid. By acting on the level of municipal politics, taking part in election proceedings, and becoming members of party political organisations, the suffragists advanced the issue of women’s franchise and contributed to women obtaining political rights on the same conditions as men in 1919/21.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Atlas förlag , 2004. , 405 p.
gender, suffrage, franchise, eligibility, political representation, politics, citizenship, democracy, democratization, liberalism, maternalism, nationalism
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-239ISBN: 91-7389-147-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-239DiVA: diva2:191358
2004-10-29, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 14-18, Stockholm, 10:00
Wängnerud, Lena, Ph D Docent
Florin, Christina, Ph D ProfessorÖstberg, Kjell, Prof