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Challenging identity hierarchies: Gender and consociational power-sharing

Kennedy, R and Pierson, C and Thomson, J (2016) Challenging identity hierarchies: Gender and consociational power-sharing. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 18 (3). pp. 618-633. ISSN 1369-1481

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Abstract

Consociational democracy has become the most influential paradigm in the field of power-sharing institutional design and post-conflict peacebuilding. Consociation institutes representation for certain formerly excluded groups. However, it simultaneously inhibits effective political representation for groups that do not align with the societal divisions that consociation seeks to accommodate, specifically the ‘additional’ cleavage of gender. Given the extensive use of the consociational model as a peacebuilding tool in divided states and the growing awareness of the disproportionate negative effect of conflict on women, there is a surprising lack of consideration of the effect that consociational power-sharing has on women’s representation. This article considers the specific impact that the consociational model has on women’s representation. We argue that because gender is an integral factor in conflict, it should therefore be integral to post-conflict governance. With empirical reference to contemporary Northern Ireland, it is illustrated that consociationalism is a ‘gender-blind’ theory.

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