Political Participation & Public Opinion

Section Chairs

Brenda O'Neill, University of Calgary

Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland


The active engagement and political participation of citizens is key to the working of democracy.

Yet, conventional processes of engagement and participation are now under pressure, even in well-established democratic societies.

Citizens’ participation in institutional politics is declining, leading to the rise of antidemocratic and contentious populist movements.

At the same time, there is a paradoxical and concomitant increase in new spaces and channels of action like demonstrations and protest, on- and offline activism, and alternative forms of political participation such as deliberative citizens’ assemblies in local, national, and transnational contexts.

Given political engagement and participation’s crucial role in democracies, understanding it takes on a sense of urgency. 

These developments in political participation create opportunities and challenges for gender equality.

How do these developments change women’s access to and voice in politics?

Does women’s engagement and participation produce different dynamics and outcomes?

Is women’s participation affected by these developments differently than men’s? If so, which women?







What are the gendered consequences of changing forms and spaces of political participation?

Do changes in (social) media, mediation, and communication processes result in new gender divides and marginalization in civic engagement?

And, how do these questions affect the relationship between institutional and non-institutional politics?

What are the implications for definitions of “politics” and “the political”? Do these developments offer new opportunities to make the personal political?

In light of this, we welcome papers and panels that address all knowledge about all facets of women’s political participation.

Papers may be theoretical or empirical and consider women’s participation as voters; party, trade union, or other organizational members; political candidates and leaders; online activists and campaigners; and as participants in local, regional, national, and transnational levels.

Projects that examine new areas of women’s political engagement and participation, such as social media and online activism, are especially welcomed, as are papers that explore the complexities of gender gaps in political behaviour or contributing new knowledge about little-known areas.