Matteo Bassoli (Dipartimento di Analisi delle Politiche e Management Pubblico) ha presentato Women in Local Politics: An Analysis of 2011 Italian Elections for Majors (con Jasmine Lorenzini, Université de Genève) al workshop Bocconi on Women (4 novembre 2011).
Abstract: Among the multiple socio-demographic variables that have an influence on political participation scholars have included sex, some using a more refined approach name it gender – working on the social construction and differentiation of women and men roles. This implies understanding how the gender regimes made of policies related to paid work, care, income, time and voice function (Pascall and Lewis 2004). Gender regimes vary across country and depend on the labor market structure, but also on the organization of care work provision. In this paper we address the issue of gendered political participation in relation to both employment situations and domestic work comparing the situation in Switzerland and Italy. The five components of the gender regimes just mentioned have an important influence on women’s political participation. Women’s voice is supported or refrained depending on their position on the labor market, the amount of work they need to provide within the household and the resulting share of resources and time they have for voice (political participation). Researches on this latter topic have often used the variable sex, rather than gender, to explain individuals’ political participation. However we place our analysis in another tradition of research where gender is considered as the socially constructed and differentiated women and men’s roles, therefore we include in our analysis variables that permit to measure these gendered roles. The design approach used is the most different systems one. Comparing a Swiss city with an Italian one is interesting for the division of labor between men and women differs, both on the labor market and within the household, while the trend in political participation are quite similar, although not the same. As regards the differences, the Swiss labor market is more flexible and therefore displays a higher share of women working part time and a bigger wage differential between men and women, whereas the Italian labor market is more egalitarian between men and women. However while the access to the Swiss market is unproblematic, the Italian one is characterized by a strong divide between insiders and outsiders – those who have access to the labor market and those who do not (the unemployed and precarious workers). Moreover the two countries differ also with regards to the division of domestic work – in Switzerland the division of labor within the household is more egalitarian than in Italy. The most dissimilar system is very useful to test the gender approach while controlling for different hypotheses on the floor. Indeed previous researches on political participation have shown that when controlling for education and employment situations, the gap in participation – in particular in electoral turnout – among men and women disappears (Schlozman, Burns, and Verba 1999; Verba, Burns, and Schlozman 1997). At the same time other scholars (Coffé and Bolzendahl 2010) suggests that levels of participation between men and women vary depending on the specific modes of participation that are being studied. Thus participation not always favors men (as in Milbrath 1965). In particular, women are more likely to vote and engage in ‘private’ activism (above all consumerism) (Stolle and Micheletti, 2005), while men are more likely to have engaged in direct contact and collective types of actions (Coffé and Bolzendahl 2010). Hence we propose an analysis of differentiated political participation between men and women in Turin and Geneva taking into account employment and family situations. Using quantitative data gathered within the European project YOUNEX, on youth unemployment and exclusion, we conducted regression analysis (ordered probit) that enabled us to measure the specific impact of each variable on various forms of political participation. The article helps to clarify the gender effect on political participation, considering both the different forms of political participation and the relative importance of the specific intermediary variables taken into account. Hence we can show that gender effect is mainly activated trough occupational status, while familial responsibilities play a major role only in Italy. Nonetheless this general conclusion has to be better specified. The analysis of gendered political behaviors did not show any systematic and consistent gender gap. Nevertheless we find that young women are less active than their male counterparts on a number of political behaviors – in particular the more conventional ones such as being member of a political party, working in a political party and those related to contacting – and this is true for both cities. In the case of Geneva the gender gap appears also in a political behavior pertaining to the protest forms of action – taking part in a public demonstration. Whereas in Turin among the protest and new forms of political participation such as boycotting, buycotting and signing petitions there is no statistically significant gender gap and neither did we find the higher participation of women in consumer actions (buycotting and boycotting) found by Stolle and Micheletti (2005) in other contexts. At the same time the more refined ordered probit regression analysis shows that the impact of gender appears only in the case of Turin with one predictor in particular: taking care of the domestic work. The household duties reduce significantly the political participation of Turin young women in contacting, while this is not the case for young men living in Turin. Moreover this gendered division of labor has no impact in the case of Geneva. These are first results that need further investigation in order to better understand the impact of the gender predictors on different forms of political participation. We propose to follow this line of research and use our model to predict other forms of political participation such as protest and consumer actions for instance.