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UK and European Comparative Governance and Politics

Topic: UK and European Comparative Governance and Politics

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UK and European Comparative Governance and Politics

Introduction

Descriptive representation of groups such as women and ethnic minorities has become a contentious issue in not only academic literature but in the politics in most modern democracies such as the UK. The main aim of the descriptive representation of women in these democracies has often been noted as a losing battle against men, especially local men, with consequences for the descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities (Mackay, 2004, p.103). This topic has received much attention by feminist theorists in political issues as they focus on the problems of relative exclusion of women and ethnic minorities. It has been established that there is underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in parliament and in national, local and regional assemblies. Though there have been intense political activism and advocacy, these global trends towards transformation in the political arena, there has not been proper transformation in gender roles and ethnic minority groups in political leadership.

There have been various factors that have been attributed to women underrepresentation in politics though they are being phased out through affirmative action and activism for gender equality. It has been affirmed that the political science profession has been viewed as a very “male dominated” profession and that the “high politics” remain to be stubbornly masculine (Beeman et al, 2009, p.882). This paper offers information concerning descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities in the UK political arena by demystifying the long standing claim that women have consistently been marginalized within democracies and institutions. These assertions imply that there is need for institutional restructuring through suggesting policies that can be implemented in the modern democracies to embrace women and ethnic minorities’ representation in leadership and political ranks. These aspects will help in dispelling mistrust among the affected under-presented groups since they consider the political leadership governing them as unjust, illegitimate and democratic deficit.

Gendered Political Leadership

The social aspects in any nation whether advanced in its democratic leadership or not are heavily influenced by gendered representation in leadership. This statement derives its authenticity and validity from the social constructivism approach in which any discussion that invokes women’s differences- in perceptions to power, in governance practices, can resonate with conservative squabbles (Mackay, 2004, p.117). These arguments can result in discrimination, prejudice and exacerbate stereotyping. In some historical contexts women leadership aspirations have been supported with reference to their sameness to men and at times with reference to their difference. These different perceptions form the basis upon which analysis of the UK democracy should just improve the descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities in political or leadership positions. Social constructivism is seen in these perceptions as they recognize embedded structural power imbalances.

The constructivism approach links the experiences of women’s lives rather than their biological imperatives. This means that women enter the political and leadership positions differently than men due to their workplace locations and their household chores and responsibilities (Eschle, 2002, p.321) This means that the women’s work in bridges their private and public experiences implying that the pervasive discrimination and violence that they experience influence their political strategies. These perceptions ought to be routed out through institutional reengineering so as to enlighten people that gender is a social relation and not the property of a person. This will help in demystifying the negative perceptions that people in developed democracies have concerning women leadership and political strategies. This has to be coupled with emphasis on both gender hierarchies and globalization so as to make representation of the underrepresented groups is made more meaningful.

Greater descriptive representation in the modern democracy does not appear to be enough since there is need to restructure and dispel any negative misconception concerning women leadership and polity mechanisms. Globalization has to be promoted by intensifying international social interrelatedness whereby diffusion of neoliberal economic convention based on the rise of transnational corporations is promoted (Beeman et al, 2009, p.867) This will aid in diffusion of democratic institutions not only in the UK but across the world but this has to be supported with reconstruction of democracy using global and feminist frameworks. There is need for reform and expansion of the liberal rights and duties so as to make them more universally acceptable and internationally applicable. These strategies will ensure that representation of women in political and leadership positions is facilitated so as to attain equality and confidence in the political strategies in the UK and other modern democracies.

Radical measures ought to be implemented so as to gain control of existing state bodies and construct substantive participatory democracy and a socialized nation. Democratic inter-state organizations should be developed as stipulated in the proposals to overcome gendered marginalization of democracy in the feminist democratic theory so as to create a more woman-friendly polity (Perret & Lucio, 2009, p.1304). These assertions imply that the practical way of engendering the UK democracy should involve liberal and reformist orientation through institutional changes to expand women’s public presence. For instance, advocacy for social policies like provision of child-care facilities, aimed at giving women the time and skills to participate as equals in the public realm. There is need to implement quotas in the political systems on party lists and in parliament. Cultivation of culturally diverse forms of political communication and institutionalization mechanisms that are envisaged as a basis of a new mode of ethical political discourse are needed.

It is imperative noting that gender is central to conventional political processes and institutions with far reaching implications for the analysis of public power political life. This assertion implies that the integration gender issues in the political institutions presents fundamental challenges to the main understandings of political life and links public and private as well as formal and informal spheres (Mackay, 2004, p.119). This means that the presence of women as elected members in parliaments, assemblies and councils is not enough to portray democracy in modern democracies. There is need for gender balance on aspects of equality, justice, and fairness besides the legitimacy of the democratic system. Descriptive representation ought to be done away with since women may not act in women’s interests but just as a signifier of justice, inclusion and recognition.

Developed democracies such as the UK ought to embrace substantive representation in which theoretical and practical expectation that once present (in sufficient numbers) women representatives ‘act for’ women. This has to ensure women’s interests, needs, and concerns are more fully represented with practical policy outcomes that are desirable are attained (Childs & Cowley, 2011, p.14). This means that women ought to offer particular knowledge, values and skills to politics in relation to the political behavior and institutional policies or norms. Substantial representation of women should be preferred in the leadership and political arena in democracies across the world. This will develop a diversity of women’s perspectives that can be integrated in the political debate. The eventual effect will be creation of synergy and improving deliberation and greater representation on aspects that have not yet been inserted into the political agenda.

Improving greater descriptive representation in the UK democracy and other modern democracies is not enough to assert that there is gender equality in the political and leadership positions. There is need to have women assigned tasks in leadership positions so as to hold positional powers through cabinet and ministerial posts. Though there are some form of substantive representation an empirical study of the UK shows that structure is not wholly integrated in the political system (Perret & Lucio, 2009, p.1297) Recent studies even indicate that women politicians in the current political systems make a small difference in political institutions. This is based on the fact that current political systems have made some form of progress about the nature, scope and the necessary conditions for substantive representation. Women have been reported to perceive themselves as working in a different way to their male counterparts, meaning that they ‘act for’ women.

Ethnic Minorities Representation in Politics

There are ongoing debates relating to ethnic minority representation in political leadership positions in modern democracies such as the UK. The main concept has been to rectify the disparity between the representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people with expanded terms of reference to include sexuality in restructuring the political systems. There have been political injustices in the UK regarding the ethnic minorities as the politics of presence involve inclusion of the ethnic minority groups without consideration the theoretical and practical ideologies that can shape desirable democratic outcomes (Childs & Cowley, 2011, p.16). It ought to be noted that ethnic minority representation should not be based on politics of presence in which people are just supposed to have someone who speaks for them. There is need to have one of their own speaking for them, someone who broadly shares and understands their interests and experiences.

Through enhancing substantive representation of the ethnic minorities in the political landscapes people will have confidence in the government due to the legitimacy associated with political equality. This means that the perception of the formerly excluded are equally fit to govern. The political institutions will be valued since the ethnic minorities will make plausible claims that people like them are involved in the issues of national importance and therefore consider those institutions legitimate (Eschle, 2002, p.315). This will communicate a message to all people that anyone can stand for office irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds since political aspects will be demystified as not being a preserve for professional politicians. The eventual effect will be the enhancement of peace and unity since aspects of discrimination based on social differences based on people’s ethnic backgrounds will be dispelled.

Considering social constructivism in redesigning the political landscape of the UK has to assess the perceptions ethnic minorities face in relation to ‘other’ people. This will form basis upon which proper policies can be implemented so as to only have descriptive representation in politics but have substantive representation. It has been established through literary study and analysis that lack of empathy and shared experiences could be a major problem that ought to be tackled as far as ethnic minority representation is concerned in the present modern democracies like the one in the UK (Beeman et al, 2009, p.884). Being led by a politician from a different ethnic group may spark inequality through some form of discrimination on the basis of race and this implies there is the need to have similar interests and experiences with other members of the group in order to effectively lead them.

However, besides considering empathy in facilitating representation of the minority groups in the political and leadership positions, there is need to consider the people’s ability. This means that an excellent, intelligent, and well-educated candidate ought to be selected so as to fight for the rights, aspirations and interests. Transformational leadership should be adopted so as to facilitate proper services provision and unity among people from different ethnic minority groups irrespective of their social, economic and political backgrounds Mackay, 2004, p.120). Integrating diversity in leadership will help in solving many of the social problems that democracies face as there will be a wide pool of ideas from representatives who understand their people leading to better governance. These assertions imply that advocating for descriptive representation of select minority groups is not enough but substantive representation should be embraced so as to scale heights of appropriate political leadership in the UK.

Implications from Women and Ethnic Minority Representation in Politics

Issues raised concerning women and ethnic minorities groups representation in politics in democratic countries form a basis for further study both by the academicians and political institutions. This affirmation is based on the fact that the current political system is based on identity in which social aspects of people have to be incorporated in the political structures. In structuring and reengineering the political issues in the UK, the ethnic minorities and women should not be viewed based on their sex imbalance and sexism or their ethnic minorities respectively (Childs & Cowley, 2011, p.18). There is need to place more consideration on institutionalized advantages and disadvantages so as to avoid problems associated with inequality and exclusionary practices within political institutions.

This means that behavioral patterns shaped by cultural codes of masculinity and femininity as well as institutional norms and values have to be integrated in the political systems to pave way for democracy to prevail. Approaches and methods to be used in modifying the democratic stance of the UK and other modern democratic countries should not only highlight observable differences but also contextualize them (Eschle, 2002, p.329). This means that issues that capture gender and ethnic minorities dynamics ought to be evaluated so as understand the interactions between people in political institutions and implications of the interactions. These interactions will form an elaborate basis upon which gendered norms, ethnic values and practices of ostensibly neutral political institutions can be developed.

These assertions imply that the UK ought to put in place policies needed to operationalize the social constructs of gender and ethnic minorities so as to have a society that values democracy. These aspects will ensure that substantive political representation is preferred to the descriptive representation. The assertions in this paper imply that improving the descriptive representation of women and minority ethnic groups is not enough; there is need to restructure the political system to embrace substantive representation in political or leadership positions. Feminist movements, use of policies in political parties that embrace gender equality and diversity as well as general public civic education on democracy ought to be used to demystify negative perceptions on women and ethnic minority groups’ representation in politics (Walby, 2003, p.45).

References

Childs, S & Cowley, P, 2011, The Politics of Local Presence: Is there a Case for Descriptive Representation? Political Studies. Mar2011, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p1-19.

Mackay, F, 2004, Gender and Political Representation in the UK: The State of the ‘Discipline’. British Journal of Politics & International Relations, Feb2004, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p99-120

Perret, R & Lucio, M, 2009, Trade Unions and Relations with Black and Minority-Ethnic Community Groups in the United Kingdom: The Development of New Alliances? Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies, Sep2009, Vol. 35 Issue 8, p1295-1314

Beeman, J et al, 2009, Beyond Structures to Democracy as Culture. American Behavioral Scientist, Feb2009, Vol. 52 Issue 6, p867-884,

Eschle, C, 2002, Engendering Global Democracy. International Feminist Journal of Politics. Dec2002, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p315-341

Walby, S, 2003, Policy Developments for Workplace Gender Equity in a Global Era: The Importance of the EU in the UK. Review of Policy Research. Spring2003, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p45

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Topic: UK and European Comparative Governance and Politics

Name:

Professor:

Institution:

Course:

Date of Submission:

UK and European Comparative Governance and Politics

Introduction

Descriptive representation of groups such as women and ethnic minorities has become a contentious issue in not only academic literature but in the politics in most modern democracies such as the UK. The main aim of the descriptive representation of women in these democracies has often been noted as a losing battle against men, especially local men, with consequences for the descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities (Mackay, 2004, p.103). This topic has received much attention by feminist theorists in political issues as they focus on the problems of relative exclusion of women and ethnic minorities. It has been established that there is underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in parliament and in national, local and regional assemblies. Though there have been intense political activism and advocacy, these global trends towards transformation in the political arena, there has not been proper transformation in gender roles and ethnic minority groups in political leadership.

There have been various factors that have been attributed to women underrepresentation in politics though they are being phased out through affirmative action and activism for gender equality. It has been affirmed that the political science profession has been viewed as a very “male dominated” profession and that the “high politics” remain to be stubbornly masculine (Beeman et al, 2009, p.882). This paper offers information concerning descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities in the UK political arena by demystifying the long standing claim that women have consistently been marginalized within democracies and institutions. These assertions imply that there is need for institutional restructuring through suggesting policies that can be implemented in the modern democracies to embrace women and ethnic minorities’ representation in leadership and political ranks. These aspects will help in dispelling mistrust among the affected under-presented groups since they consider the political leadership governing them as unjust, illegitimate and democratic deficit.

Gendered Political Leadership

The social aspects in any nation whether advanced in its democratic leadership or not are heavily influenced by gendered representation in leadership. This statement derives its authenticity and validity from the social constructivism approach in which any discussion that invokes women’s differences- in perceptions to power, in governance practices, can resonate with conservative squabbles (Mackay, 2004, p.117). These arguments can result in discrimination, prejudice and exacerbate stereotyping. In some historical contexts women leadership aspirations have been supported with reference to their sameness to men and at times with reference to their difference. These different perceptions form the basis upon which analysis of the UK democracy should just improve the descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities in political or leadership positions. Social constructivism is seen in these perceptions as they recognize embedded structural power imbalances.

The constructivism approach links the experiences of women’s lives rather than their biological imperatives. This means that women enter the political and leadership positions differently than men due to their workplace locations and their household chores and responsibilities (Eschle, 2002, p.321) This means that the women’s work in bridges their private and public experiences implying that the pervasive discrimination and violence that they experience influence their political strategies. These perceptions ought to be routed out through institutional reengineering so as to enlighten people that gender is a social relation and not the property of a person. This will help in demystifying the negative perceptions that people in developed democracies have concerning women leadership and political strategies. This has to be coupled with emphasis on both gender hierarchies and globalization so as to make representation of the underrepresented groups is made more meaningful.

Greater descriptive representation in the modern democracy does not appear to be enough since there is need to restructure and dispel any negative misconception concerning women leadership and polity mechanisms. Globalization has to be promoted by intensifying international social interrelatedness whereby diffusion of neoliberal economic convention based on the rise of transnational corporations is promoted (Beeman et al, 2009, p.867) This will aid in diffusion of democratic institutions not only in the UK but across the world but this has to be supported with reconstruction of democracy using global and feminist frameworks. There is need for reform and expansion of the liberal rights and duties so as to make them more universally acceptable and internationally applicable. These strategies will ensure that representation of women in political and leadership positions is facilitated so as to attain equality and confidence in the political strategies in the UK and other modern democracies.

Radical measures ought to be implemented so as to gain control of existing state bodies and construct substantive participatory democracy and a socialized nation. Democratic inter-state organizations should be developed as stipulated in the proposals to overcome gendered marginalization of democracy in the feminist democratic theory so as to create a more woman-friendly polity (Perret & Lucio, 2009, p.1304). These assertions imply that the practical way of engendering the UK democracy should involve liberal and reformist orientation through institutional changes to expand women’s public presence. For instance, advocacy for social policies like provision of child-care facilities, aimed at giving women the time and skills to participate as equals in the public realm. There is need to implement quotas in the political systems on party lists and in parliament. Cultivation of culturally diverse forms of political communication and institutionalization mechanisms that are envisaged as a basis of a new mode of ethical political discourse are needed.

It is imperative noting that gender is central to conventional political processes and institutions with far reaching implications for the analysis of public power political life. This assertion implies that the integration gender issues in the political institutions presents fundamental challenges to the main understandings of political life and links public and private as well as formal and informal spheres (Mackay, 2004, p.119). This means that the presence of women as elected members in parliaments, assemblies and councils is not enough to portray democracy in modern democracies. There is need for gender balance on aspects of equality, justice, and fairness besides the legitimacy of the democratic system. Descriptive representation ought to be done away with since women may not act in women’s interests but just as a signifier of justice, inclusion and recognition.

Developed democracies such as the UK ought to embrace substantive representation in which theoretical and practical expectation that once present (in sufficient numbers) women representatives ‘act for’ women. This has to ensure women’s interests, needs, and concerns are more fully represented with practical policy outcomes that are desirable are attained (Childs & Cowley, 2011, p.14). This means that women ought to offer particular knowledge, values and skills to politics in relation to the political behavior and institutional policies or norms. Substantial representation of women should be preferred in the leadership and political arena in democracies across the world. This will develop a diversity of women’s perspectives that can be integrated in the political debate. The eventual effect will be creation of synergy and improving deliberation and greater representation on aspects that have not yet been inserted into the political agenda.

Improving greater descriptive representation in the UK democracy and other modern democracies is not enough to assert that there is gender equality in the political and leadership positions. There is need to have women assigned tasks in leadership positions so as to hold positional powers through cabinet and ministerial posts. Though there are some form of substantive representation an empirical study of the UK shows that structure is not wholly integrated in the political system (Perret & Lucio, 2009, p.1297) Recent studies even indicate that women politicians in the current political systems make a small difference in political institutions. This is based on the fact that current political systems have made some form of progress about the nature, scope and the necessary conditions for substantive representation. Women have been reported to perceive themselves as working in a different way to their male counterparts, meaning that they ‘act for’ women.

Ethnic Minorities Representation in Politics

There are ongoing debates relating to ethnic minority representation in political leadership positions in modern democracies such as the UK. The main concept has been to rectify the disparity between the representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people with expanded terms of reference to include sexuality in restructuring the political systems. There have been political injustices in the UK regarding the ethnic minorities as the politics of presence involve inclusion of the ethnic minority groups without consideration the theoretical and practical ideologies that can shape desirable democratic outcomes (Childs & Cowley, 2011, p.16). It ought to be noted that ethnic minority representation should not be based on politics of presence in which people are just supposed to have someone who speaks for them. There is need to have one of their own speaking for them, someone who broadly shares and understands their interests and experiences.

Through enhancing substantive representation of the ethnic minorities in the political landscapes people will have confidence in the government due to the legitimacy associated with political equality. This means that the perception of the formerly excluded are equally fit to govern. The political institutions will be valued since the ethnic minorities will make plausible claims that people like them are involved in the issues of national importance and therefore consider those institutions legitimate (Eschle, 2002, p.315). This will communicate a message to all people that anyone can stand for office irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds since political aspects will be demystified as not being a preserve for professional politicians. The eventual effect will be the enhancement of peace and unity since aspects of discrimination based on social differences based on people’s ethnic backgrounds will be dispelled.

Considering social constructivism in redesigning the political landscape of the UK has to assess the perceptions ethnic minorities face in relation to ‘other’ people. This will form basis upon which proper policies can be implemented so as to only have descriptive representation in politics but have substantive representation. It has been established through literary study and analysis that lack of empathy and shared experiences could be a major problem that ought to be tackled as far as ethnic minority representation is concerned in the present modern democracies like the one in the UK (Beeman et al, 2009, p.884). Being led by a politician from a different ethnic group may spark inequality through some form of discrimination on the basis of race and this implies there is the need to have similar interests and experiences with other members of the group in order to effectively lead them.

However, besides considering empathy in facilitating representation of the minority groups in the political and leadership positions, there is need to consider the people’s ability. This means that an excellent, intelligent, and well-educated candidate ought to be selected so as to fight for the rights, aspirations and interests. Transformational leadership should be adopted so as to facilitate proper services provision and unity among people from different ethnic minority groups irrespective of their social, economic and political backgrounds Mackay, 2004, p.120). Integrating diversity in leadership will help in solving many of the social problems that democracies face as there will be a wide pool of ideas from representatives who understand their people leading to better governance. These assertions imply that advocating for descriptive representation of select minority groups is not enough but substantive representation should be embraced so as to scale heights of appropriate political leadership in the UK.

Implications from Women and Ethnic Minority Representation in Politics

Issues raised concerning women and ethnic minorities groups representation in politics in democratic countries form a basis for further study both by the academicians and political institutions. This affirmation is based on the fact that the current political system is based on identity in which social aspects of people have to be incorporated in the political structures. In structuring and reengineering the political issues in the UK, the ethnic minorities and women should not be viewed based on their sex imbalance and sexism or their ethnic minorities respectively (Childs & Cowley, 2011, p.18). There is need to place more consideration on institutionalized advantages and disadvantages so as to avoid problems associated with inequality and exclusionary practices within political institutions.

This means that behavioral patterns shaped by cultural codes of masculinity and femininity as well as institutional norms and values have to be integrated in the political systems to pave way for democracy to prevail. Approaches and methods to be used in modifying the democratic stance of the UK and other modern democratic countries should not only highlight observable differences but also contextualize them (Eschle, 2002, p.329). This means that issues that capture gender and ethnic minorities dynamics ought to be evaluated so as understand the interactions between people in political institutions and implications of the interactions. These interactions will form an elaborate basis upon which gendered norms, ethnic values and practices of ostensibly neutral political institutions can be developed.

These assertions imply that the UK ought to put in place policies needed to operationalize the social constructs of gender and ethnic minorities so as to have a society that values democracy. These aspects will ensure that substantive political representation is preferred to the descriptive representation. The assertions in this paper imply that improving the descriptive representation of women and minority ethnic groups is not enough; there is need to restructure the political system to embrace substantive representation in political or leadership positions. Feminist movements, use of policies in political parties that embrace gender equality and diversity as well as general public civic education on democracy ought to be used to demystify negative perceptions on women and ethnic minority groups’ representation in politics (Walby, 2003, p.45).

References

Childs, S & Cowley, P, 2011, The Politics of Local Presence: Is there a Case for Descriptive Representation? Political Studies. Mar2011, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p1-19.

Mackay, F, 2004, Gender and Political Representation in the UK: The State of the ‘Discipline’. British Journal of Politics & International Relations, Feb2004, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p99-120

Perret, R & Lucio, M, 2009, Trade Unions and Relations with Black and Minority-Ethnic Community Groups in the United Kingdom: The Development of New Alliances? Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies, Sep2009, Vol. 35 Issue 8, p1295-1314

Beeman, J et al, 2009, Beyond Structures to Democracy as Culture. American Behavioral Scientist, Feb2009, Vol. 52 Issue 6, p867-884,

Eschle, C, 2002, Engendering Global Democracy. International Feminist Journal of Politics. Dec2002, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p315-341

Walby, S, 2003, Policy Developments for Workplace Gender Equity in a Global Era: The Importance of the EU in the UK. Review of Policy Research. Spring2003, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p45

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