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Gender and the Non-civil Construction of Civil Legitimacy: The Case of Nancy Pelosi

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Abstract:

The 2008 Democratic presidential primary illustrated the continued relevance of the following theoretical question: to what extent do non-civil societal discourses, such as those concerning gender, family, and race, affect the establishment of an actor’s legitimacy in the civil sphere? In this paper I will argue that civil and non-civil spheres continually overlap and influence each other to an extent that has not been adequately emphasized in previous work on civil society. To illustrate this theoretical point, my paper examines the empirical case of Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and the cultural framing of her historic ascension in January 2007. Through examination of her major speeches and interviews, I find that Pelosi constantly negotiated between her efforts to re-signify “feminine” traits previously marked as anti-civil, notably motherhood, and her efforts to appear as an “authentic” woman, as defined by American gender ideology. This paper, then, provides a picture of the contemporary state of gendered intrusions into American civil discourse, in addition to making the theoretical argument that the influence of discourses of non-civil spheres must be accounted for in any discussion of the civil sphere proper.

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civil (111), pelosi (93), gender (38), discours (31), sphere (29), american (29), non (27), non-civil (26), nanci (25), ident (24), legitimaci (23), case (21), polit (19), mother (18), associ (17), construct (17), women (17), 2006 (16), famili (16), one (15), christin (15),
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p308210_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Slaughter, Christine. "Gender and the Non-civil Construction of Civil Legitimacy: The Case of Nancy Pelosi" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Aug 08, 2009 <Not Available>. 2014-11-29 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p308210_index.html>

APA Citation:

Slaughter, C. , 2009-08-08 "Gender and the Non-civil Construction of Civil Legitimacy: The Case of Nancy Pelosi" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-11-29 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p308210_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The 2008 Democratic presidential primary illustrated the continued relevance of the following theoretical question: to what extent do non-civil societal discourses, such as those concerning gender, family, and race, affect the establishment of an actor’s legitimacy in the civil sphere? In this paper I will argue that civil and non-civil spheres continually overlap and influence each other to an extent that has not been adequately emphasized in previous work on civil society. To illustrate this theoretical point, my paper examines the empirical case of Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and the cultural framing of her historic ascension in January 2007. Through examination of her major speeches and interviews, I find that Pelosi constantly negotiated between her efforts to re-signify “feminine” traits previously marked as anti-civil, notably motherhood, and her efforts to appear as an “authentic” woman, as defined by American gender ideology. This paper, then, provides a picture of the contemporary state of gendered intrusions into American civil discourse, in addition to making the theoretical argument that the influence of discourses of non-civil spheres must be accounted for in any discussion of the civil sphere proper.


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