The Missing Link: Examining the Relationship Between the Descriptive and Substantive Representation of Women in the UK
26 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 6 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 1, 2010
While we know that the nature of the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation is not straightforward, the exact nature and implications of this relationship are unclear. Traditional models identifying sex differences in legislative behavior obscure many of the factors that influence overall legislative behavior. These models have allowed researchers to draw wildly different conclusions regarding the substantive representation of women. Current models suggest that substantive representation should be studied in terms of the legislative process and policy outcome. While appropriate in most circumstances, I argue that current models of substantive representation ignore the issue of institutional competence, a critical component to the relationship between the descriptive and substantive representation of women. I examine 295 pieces of legislation from the devolved assemblies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to explore the implications of restricted institutional competence for the substantive representation of women in the UK. My findings suggest that this is an issue that warrants further research and investigation.
Keywords: Gender, Substantive Represenation, Devolution, UK, Representation, Descriptive Representation
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