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French Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 191–209 | Cite as

French Feminists Renegotiate Republican Universalism: The Gender Parity Campaign

  • Laure Bereni
Symposium: Article

Abstract

This article explores the feminist campaign that led to the adoption of the gender parity laws (1999–2000), mandating an affirmative action policy to enhance women's representation in elected assemblies. After reviewing the history of demands for equalizing women's access to electoral office since the emergence of the second wave of feminism in France, shifting from quota to parity, it shows the discursive tactics used by proponents of parity to shape their claim within the terms of the dominant republican universalism, which was a priori hostile to the recognition of gender in political representation. The last section is a discussion of Joan Scott's recent analysis of the ‘refiguration’ of universalism in the discourses of the proponents of parity. The article concludes that these discourses both challenged and reinforced the dominant discourses in which they were embedded, in line with a long history of feminist challenges to the gender hierarchy.

Keywords

parity gender quotas women in politics republican universalism France 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Amy Mazur, Daniel Sabbagh, and B.W. Corson for their helpful comments on a previous version of this text, although they are obviously not responsible for the thesis I developed here.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laure Bereni
    • 1
  1. 1.Equipe ‘Enquêtes, Terrains, Théories’, Centre Maurice Halbwachs (CNRS-ENS-EHESS)ParisFrance

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