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We congratulate Liza Mügge for receiving the NWO (Dutch Research Council) research grant for her VICI proposal 'Political Masculinities in Europe.' The project shifts the focus from male-dominated politics to political masculinities in its bid to understand and explain gendered political inequality. It delves into the fundamental question: how do masculinities shape politics?

About the project

Politics has traditionally been “a man’s world”, and most politicians have been men. This imbalance is decreasing. But at least as important, even though less tangible and appreciated, are the gendered norms that have pervaded politics: political masculinities—gendered conventional ideas about desirable and appropriate behavior of politicians. Casual observation reveals that these masculinities clearly matter—comparable to how gendered roles continue to structure family or work life. Yet heated public debates notwithstanding, we have little scientific understanding of when and where political masculinities shape political life, how that varies across countries, and how it has changed over time.

Political masculinities

This project shifts the focus from male-dominated politics to political masculinities in its bid to understand and explain gendered political inequality. It asks: how do masculinities structure politics? To answer this question, the project identifies, maps, and theorizes political masculinities across several European countries and in the European Parliament. It establishes how these masculinities are constructed (formally and informally), how they are claimed by politicians themselves (from the inside), and how they are ascribed to politicians by citizens (from the outside). Its novel framework establishes how socio-political transformations, political socialization, political ideology, lived experiences, and gender identification shape political masculinities, appreciating cross-country variation and other axes of diversity, as implied by intersectionality. The project’s mixed-method design integrates interviews, organizational ethnography, focus groups, narrative analysis, participant observation, and survey experiments.

Gendered nature of politics

The paradigmatic shift to political masculinities that this project advocates and implements offers a pioneering lens to understand the gendered nature of politics. Going beyond simplistic man/woman binaries, this project proposes a much more subtle understanding of entrenched privilege, but also of its potential for change. This perspective not only promises academic innovation far beyond the project, but also a fresh impetus to fraught public debates, going past obsolete and polarizing stereotypes.

Liza Mügge.

About Liza Mügge

Dr Liza Mügge is an Associate Professor at the Political Science Department and serves as the Research Theme Co-Leader of the Diverse Europe group at the Amsterdam Research Centre for European Studies (ACES). From September 2019 to February 2021, she chaired the UvA-wide Taskforce on Social Safety, which resulted in the report "Breaking the Silences: Social Safety at the University of Amsterdam." Liza Mügge is also the co-founding editor of the European Journal of Politics and Gender and previously held the position of Director at the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality from 2016 to 2019.

Dr L.M. (Liza) Mügge

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Challenges to Democratic Representation