GENPARDIS - Gender and parliamentary discourse practices

Professor Cornelia Ilie
Professor of English Linguistics
Department of Culture and Society
Malmö University
SE-205 06 Malmö

The overall goal of the project is to explore and scrutinise parliamentary discourse practices (particularly in the U.K. Parliament, the Swedish Riksdag and the French Assemblée Nationale) from a gender perspective by combining relevant linguistic and rhetorical research with political history and gender studies. By taking full account of the specific historical conditions and socio-cultural traditions of each of the parliaments under scrutiny, the project examines the ways in which ideological commitments, socio-historical traditions, party affiliations, institutional constraints and debating styles reflect and, at the same time, foster shifting attitudes to gender relations in parliament, to female MPs’ participation in political agenda-setting, as well as to male MPs’ attitudes and reactions to female MPs’ speaking styles and rhetorical positioning. If we are to understand the significance and impact of parliamentary debating strategies and speaking styles, we need to explore recurring linguistic patterns and rhetorical devices preferred by female and male MPs, which can reveal their particular agendas, ideological commitments, tactical choices, as well as interactional mechanisms for shifting the power balance.
The project has a twofold objective, a theoretical and an empirical one.

(a) The theoretical objective is to develop a cross-culturally applicable interdisciplinary model for the analysis of parliamentary discursive practices in a gender perspective; the analytical model will be updated through a cross-fertilisation of approaches developed in pragma-rhetoric, political sciences and gender studies.

(b) The empirical objective is to examine and compare communication and behaviour patterns, as well as the argumentative strategies used by female and male Members of Parliament (MPs) with an emphasis on three parliaments: the U.K. Parliament, the French Assemblée Nationale and the Swedish Riksdag.