UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Discursive equality Beauvais, Edana


To count as democratic, social systems must empower the inclusion of people affected by collective endeavours to participate in practices that contribute to self-development and self- and collective-rule. As a political practice, talking is important because it is an essential tool for enacting social identities and enabling self-development. Talking is how people think through their preferences, and helps people relate private preferences to those collective opinions and agendas that enable collective rule. However, formal barriers (such as legal restrictions) can entail exclusions that prevent disempowered social group members from participating in, or influencing practices – including talk – that contribute to self-development and self- and collective-rule. Furthermore, even in the absence of formal barriers to social and political participation, the historical legacy of structural inequality can pattern social cognition and contribute to internal exclusions that engender asymmetries in political participation and influence, including asymmetries in discursive participation and influence. I address the empirical question of whether inequality shapes social cognition to engender asymmetries in social group members’ discursive participation and influence in two analyses. In my empirical chapters, I turn my attention from a broader concern with social inequality and narrow my focus to gender inequality. In my first empirical chapter, I use Canada Election Studies (2015) data to show there is an ongoing gender gap in discursive participation. In my second empirical chapter, I use data from an original vignette experiment to show that when women do talk politics, they have less influence than men. Finally, I suggest practices and institutions to help neutralise discursive inequalities, so democratic systems can come closer to the ideal of discursive equality, or equal participation and influence in communicative processes of self-development and self- and collective-rule.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International