Maintaining Exclusive Democracies: Single-Axis Politics and the Political Dominance of Ethnic Majority Men

10 February 2016, 1.00 PM - 10 February 2016, 2.00 PM

Melanie Hughes

10 Priory Road, G2

This research seminar will be presented by Dr Melanie Hughes (University of Pittsburgh), Benjamin Meaker Visiting Fellow.

The inclusiveness of political institutions is a central component of democracy. Including women and other marginalized groups in representative institutions may reduce corruption and political alienation whilst also promoting political and social stability. Nevertheless, men from majority ethnic groups continue to dominate national politics in countries around the world. One of the ways the status quo of majority men’s political overrepresentation is maintained is through what I call single-axis politics. Political attention directed towards one axis of identity – e.g., ethnicity, gender – may deflect attention from other axes of inequality and help to stabilize majority men’s political dominance. In this seminar, I develop the concept of single-axis politics and its empirical applications. Using quantitative analysis, I show that political attention to ethnicity can create substantial barriers to institutional changes benefiting women, leaving majority men’s political dominance intact.  Single-axis politics is a threat to the quality of governments around the world today.

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