Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Female political elites as an empowerment resource : an exploration of the 'Role Model Effect' in South Africa
Author: Michalko, Jan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 6557
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
The 'Role Model Effect' (RME) broadly postulates that women's presence in male-dominated positions of political power encourages other women to participate in politics. In this study I contribute to the RME scholarship by expanding the analytical scope prevalent in the literature, as I examine the extent to which values, characteristics and behaviours that female university students associate with the term 'female political elite' serve as normative resources when they make important life decisions. Hence, this study analyses how the RME functions by emphasising the lived experiences of female students at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. Based on focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews conducted in 2016-2017, I find that most students do not directly consider women in politics as role models. However, students create a connection between themselves and an ideal female political elite through leadership. They construct a set of norms that they expect of female political elites as leaders and as ideal versions of themselves: someone educated, hard-working, active, caring, steadfast, and independent. Many women in politics do not meet these ideal norms. Nevertheless, they contribute to the construction of the ideal type together with a variety of women and men who serve as role models and anti-heroes for the students. These findings suggest that it would be beneficial for women's empowerment and political representation scholars and activists, especially within the western context, to consider more fully people's agency and the construction of the normative ideal. Consequently, this shift in focus highlights the importance of access to relevant information about a variety of women across public and private spheres and people's ability to critically analyse this information. Moreover, it calls for future explorations of context-relevant empowering ideals and constructs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral