The Dynamics of Political Representation: Examining Descriptive Substantive and Symbolic Representation with a Natural Experiment

Project: Research project

Project Details


What happens when womens political representation doubles overnight? Because of the unusual lag between the passage of Uruguays quota law in 2009 and its implementation, the case of Uruguay provides a natural experiment to answer this question. This study will examine whether/how increases in the number of women in government influence the nature of political representation. More specifically, the introduction and implementation of Uruguays quota law provides analytical leverage to isolate how increases in the numerical representation of women influence changes in policy responsiveness (substantive representation), as well as changes in symbolic representation. The proposed project relies on a multi-methodological design. First, a two-wave panel survey of Uruguayan citizens will be designed and implemented to track changes in citizens views of the quota law, as well as changes in citizens attitudes towards politics and government and changes in citizens political engagement and political activity. Second, a content analysis of news coverage will assess how the news media cover the introduction and implementation of the Uruguayan quota law. The content analysis will also investigate how the news media are covering the changing composition of the legislature and changes in the type of legislation passed in congress before and after the implementation of the quota. Finally, the behavior and attitudes of legislators will be studied content analyses of legislators websites and speeches.
Effective start/end date8/6/1411/30/15


  • US Agency for International Development (USAID): $70,000.00


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