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Revealing the “Secret Garden”: The Informal Dimensions of Political Recruitment

  • Elin Bjarnegård (a1) and Meryl Kenny (a2)

Candidate selection and recruitment has been notably described as the “secret garden” of politics—an obscure process, often hidden from view, that is regulated largely by internal party rules, informal practices, and power relationships (cf. Gallagher and Marsh 1988). In this contribution, we contend that informal party practices and their gendered consequences are critically important for understanding the continuity of male political dominance and female underrepresentation. Rather than make a strict separation between formal and informal rules in the recruitment process, we argue that gender politics scholars must instead identify and empirically investigate the specific combinations of such rules that impact upon women's and men's political participation in parties. The proposed approach allows for a more nuanced understanding of the bounded nature and variable outcomes of institutional innovation and party change.

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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