Family, gender norms and social class: The political incorporation of women in Sweden (1921-1960)

Jordi Muñoz (UB)

21st april 13:00h, Sala de Juntes Facultat de Ciències Polítiques i Sociologia de la UAB or Teams (link).
Women’s voting behavior has been historically defined by three stylized facts: at the time of their enfranchisement, they voted less than men did; their participation varied with social status; and they gradually caught up with men, first among high-status urban groups and last in rural areas. To account for these tendencies, we develop a theory that links women’s probability to vote to their position in the family and type of gender norms that were prevalent in their social milieu. Among women in social environments in which traditional gender norms were more pervasive, political participation was highly dependent on marriage and intra-family mobilization: unmarried women voted infrequently; married women, however, internalizing the interests of their households and abiding by the norms that governed family life, approximated their husband’s voting rate. By contrast, for those groups that already displayed more modern norms and practices, mainly urban educated women, electoral participation was less dependent on their marital status, and the overall female-male turnout gap much lower. Our model integrates but moves beyond standard participation models that underline the role of individual resources (and the mobilization of political organizations) in the decisión to vote. We test it employing a unique set of official turnout data for elections in Sweden between 1921 – the first election in which women had the right to vote – and 1960, recording participation by gender, occupational group, marital status, and (for some elections), regional district of all eligible voters.
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