Sex Differences in Political Participation: Processes of Change in Fourteen Nations

By Carol A. Christy | Go to book overview

5
Conclusion

Although data are limited, sex differences in political participation have usually decreased. However, this trend is not well explained by the development, generational, and diffusion models. These models also poorly explain variations across and within nations.

Only a complex equation with many interrelated variables can adequately account for the changes that have taken place and predict those of the future. Economic development, generational turnover, and post-franchise diffusion processes have only small weights in this equation. Nor would it assume, as the three models I have tested do, that sex differences must diminish in the future. The evidence suggests that future trends will likely depend more on human choice and action than on abstract, mechanical forces.

Where are the three models I have looked at most relevant, and how could they be improved? The diffusion model as originally presented is too limited; it identifies only one event, women's enfranchisement, as commencing the diffusion process, and presumes that sex differences will only narrow, not widen. Sometimes in these data smaller differences in participatory attitudes and communications activities did diffuse from center to periphery and from young to old. But many kinds of social movements and general cultural changes set off waves of diffusion, which may be in the direction of less egalitarian gender attitudes. A satisfactory model of the diffusion process would have to take more events into account and avoid making assumptions about the direction of change.

Some of the questions a more sophisticated diffusion model would have to address include: precisely why do cultural norms about gender roles change? The feminist movement clearly made

-115-

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Sex Differences in Political Participation: Processes of Change in Fourteen Nations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 32
  • 2 - Cross-National Variations 35
  • Notes 66
  • 3 - Within-Nation Variations 67
  • Notes 93
  • 4 - Temporal Variations 95
  • Notes 112
  • 5 - Conclusion 115
  • Appendix A The Surveys 123
  • Appendix B The Intervening and Dependent Variables 127
  • Appendix C The Independent Variables 133
  • Appendix D Sex Differences in Political Participation 139
  • References and Bibliography 155
  • Index 179
  • About the Author 193
  • Series Editors' Sketches 195
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