Can women dynasty politicians disrupt social norms of political leadership? A proposed typology of normative change

AuthorKerryn Baker,Sonia Palmieri
Published date01 January 2023
Date01 January 2023
Subject MatterOriginal Research Articles
International Political Science Review
2023, Vol. 44(1) 122 –136
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/01925121211048298
Can women dynasty politicians
disrupt social norms of political
leadership? A proposed typology
of normative change
Kerryn Baker and Sonia Palmieri
The Australian National University, Australia
Social norms that legitimise men as political leaders, and undervalue women’s leadership, are a tenacious
barrier to women’s representation globally. This article explores the circumstances under which women
dynasty politicians, whose legacy connections have provided them with an initial pathway into politics, are
able to disrupt these norms. We test a proposed typology of normative change – one that progresses from
norm acceptance, to norm modification, then norm resistance – among women dynasty politicians in the
Pacific Islands. We find that norms of masculinised political leadership are strong, and in many cases the
election of wives, widows, daughters and other relatives of male political actors reinforces these norms
through their positioning as ‘placeholders’. Yet some women dynasty politicians can, and do, challenge and
extend social norms of leadership. This is especially the case when the ‘legacy advantage’ is a springboard
from which women demonstrate – and their publics accept – their own articulation of political leadership.
Women in politics, dynasty politician, norm change, legitimacy, Pacific Islands
Under what circumstances can the social norms that delegitimise women’s political representation
be disrupted? We ask this question in light of a renewed emphasis on the relationship of social
norms to political leadership, commonly exemplified in the pervasive attitude that men make ‘bet-
ter’ political leaders than women. What would it take to challenge this attitude so that more women
were elected, and more broadly, so that women’s leadership was socially, culturally, and politically
valued? In considering these questions, we explore the conditions under which a particular path-
way to politics – which we label a ‘legacy advantage’ – supports the transformation of social norms
that delegitimise women’s political activity. Globally, a key pathway into politics for women – and
Corresponding author:
Sonia Palmieri, Gender Policy Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University, HC Coombs
Building, 9 Fellows Rd, Acton, ACT 260, Australia.
1048298IPS0010.1177/01925121211048298International Political Science ReviewBaker and Palmieri
Original Research Article

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT