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Title: Media representations of women politicians : the cases of Ghana and Nigeria
Author: Osei-Appiah, Sally
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 8071
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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Women politicians have long been marginalised in the political arena, aided in part by gender roles which prescribe what a woman can and cannot do, and patriarchal systems which establish, reinforce and sustain these roles. Increasing the visibility of women politicians is therefore a form of contestation against these structural barriers. It breaks the male dominance in politics while serving as a reference point to encourage more women into politics. However, studies on women politicians’ media coverage point to gender biases that favour male politicians in both quantity and quality. While coverage of male politicians is generally issue-based, demonstrating their policy views, that of female politicians is refracted through the gendered lens of marginalisation and sexist reporting. Given the increasing mediatisation of contemporary politics, a trend that has positioned the media as the prime provider of political information, this media bias against women politicians undermines not only their political careers but also the very fibre of representative democracy. Research evidence on women politicians’ media coverage, while growing significantly, is dominated by Western-based studies; not much is known about other non-Western contexts such as those in Africa. There is therefore a huge gap in knowledge concerning how African media portray their women politicians. Against this background, this study aims to address this gap by focusing on Ghana and Nigeria. Using a case study, multimodal critical discourse analysis design, it draws on Mediatisation of politics theory, the Hierarchy of Influence model and Feminist media theory to investigate critical and interrelated problems. Through content analysis, it investigates how Ghanaian and Nigerian women politicians are verbally and visually (where applicable) represented in their national press and radio news. As news texts are created by individuals working within organisational and institutional frameworks which in turn are shaped by the political, economic and socio-cultural milieu within which media outlets are situated, the study also examines the individual, institutional and socio-cultural factors influencing news coverage of women politicians. While mainstream media remains the key channel of political information, social media has come to be regarded as a key resource for political communication in recent years. Therefore, this study also considers how women politicians self-represent on social media with specific focus on Facebook. The findings reveal a mixed picture mediated by gender ideology, political and media systems and culture as well as organisational and technological differences which interact in a complex interrelationship to shape coverage of politics. They also suggest that the personal and structural challenges women politicians face with visibility in mainstream media almost mirror those for their online presence. In the end, this thesis shows that women politicians’ ability to adapt to news media logic, which in turn shapes their media coverage, is consequently undermined by individual and institutional factors that are embedded in the socio-cultural setting.
Supervisor: Aiello, Giorgia ; Parry, Katy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available