The Matrix Behind Womanhood : Political Ideology and Substantive Representation of Women in Poland

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)

Abstract: In 2015 the Polish political environment saw a sudden change with the election of PiS (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość/Law and Justice), a conservative right-wing wing party that became the ruling voice in society. Due to the interconnectedness of politics and religion, the role of the Catholic church gained prevalence leading to a shift in the preferred discursive practices. This paper shall primarily focus on the gender perspective, specifically the envisioned role enforced on Polish women by PiS given the shift from liberalism towards conservatism. Substantive representation linked to descriptive representation shall allow to researching policies that concern the needs of women.  As an objective, the study aims to explore gender roles and womanhood through social discourse as well as political actions. The study contributes to the identified research gap between social conservatism and the substantive representation of women in Central and Eastern Europe. Three theories are employed (the Queer theory, the Performativity theory and the Dramaturgical model) that complement each other with the purpose of creating a multi-layered analysis.  In terms of methodology, qualitative research is conducted that includes a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) in relation to online data, drawing on principles from nethnography and feminist ethnography. Moreover, in order to grasp the lived experience, a small number of interviews have been conducted. Results have shown the challenging social positioning of women after the implementation of policies concerning women’s rights, such as reproductive rights. This created national debates as to what it means to provide women with a ‘voice’ and how this might threaten the freedom of expression and consequently human rights. Counter-narratives show the resistance to the conditioning of behavioural expectations. 

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