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Investigating political equality: The example of gender and political participation in Sweden

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A common thought is that political participation must be equally high among different social groups – such as women and men or various socioeconomic groups – in order for political equality to be fulfilled. This approach has, however, been criticized for being too crude. Several scholars argue that one must also study the reasons behind group differences in participation. If these differences are explained by differences in resources – and not political motivation – political equality is threatened, as this points to structural inequalities determining participatory differences. Using this perspective, I make an empirical investigation into the political participation of women and men in Sweden, a country known for unusually far-reaching political gender equality. In spite of this, men devote more of their political activities to areas of production, such as questions relating to working life, and I find that this difference may be explained by a male advantage in political resources (civic skills, primarily). The conclusion is that political equality has not yet been fully realized between women and men in Sweden. Hence, future studies should consider separating between different policy areas, when empirically evaluating the status of political equality. Quantitative methods are used in the empirical analyses.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Government, Uppsala University, Box 514, Uppsala, S-751 20, Sweden., Email:

Publication date: 2011-10-08

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