ISSN: 1451-2203 (Print)
ISSN: 2620-181X (Online)


Call for Papers

Political Representation of Women:
Global Theory and Empirical Reality from South-East Europe

Guest Editor – Saša Gavrić (Leipzig University)

Issues of political representation are a core focus of gender and politics research. US political theorist Hanna Pitkin is considered the starting point for modern-day discussions on political representation. In 1967, Pitkin published The Concept of Representation, a study that will influence generations of political representation researchers. According to Pitkin there are four dimensions of representation: 1) formalistic, 2) descriptive, 3) symbolic, and 4) substantive. This classification is important to understand in order to appreciate the path that the representation theory has taken over the past decades. Each representation type provides a different approach to examining representation.

Besides Pitkin’s non-gendered contribution, another gendered book dominates the debate: Anne Phillips’s The Politics of Presence (1995). Phillips provides a ground-breaking contribution to the widespread and controversial debate about how disadvantaged groups, including women, should be represented in politics. Building upon Pitkin and Phillips, most feminist work on the topic focuses on theoretical debates and empirical research around descriptive and substantive representation of women, making an important point that gender balanced numerical representation (descriptive representation) is linked to but conceptually different from gender-sensitive political processes and outcomes (substantive representation).

Over the last four decades different approaches have been taken in order to define and empirically operationalise the concepts of ‘acting’, ‘women’s interests’ and ‘women’s issues’, some being very narrow and feminist, others very broad, incl. non-feminist definitions. Among others, researchers have examined

  • which women are represented,
  • who acts in the interests of women,
  • where the representation of women takes place,
  • and how it is done – in addition to evaluating the quality of representation.

Substantive representation, the ‘acting in the interest of the represented, in a manner responsive to them’ (Pitkin), started to be investigated especially during the last three decades. First, research evolved around the study of the relations that could be empirically established between women’s descriptive representation in certain institutions, generally in legislatures, and the representation of women’s interests. Researchers and especially practitioners believed in the so-called ‘critical mass theory’: by achieving a critical mass of women members of parliament, women’s interest will – more or less automatically – enter the political agenda. Nevertheless, already in early stages of development, researchers questioned the conclusion that women’s numerical presence in decision-making positions will guarantee the representation of women’s interests.

Women’s descriptive representation started to be seen as one of the many ways toward the achievement of substantive representation of women. ‘Critical actors’, ‘critical acts’ and ‘representative claims’ are at the centre of the debate, going beyond the traditional view that female politicians are best equipped to represent the interests of women. The focus is not anymore on a critical mass of female politicians and the link between descriptive and substantive representation, but on critical actors, female and male, which don’t have to be elected politicians. The critical act of representing women is therefore multifaceted and women might be represented by diverse actors, inside and outside parliament. Extra-parliamentary arenas, like governmental women’s public policy agencies and women’s (civil society) movements are recognised as effective avenues for representation of women’s interests. Women’s movements formulate women’s interests and lobby or work together with the state to represent women.

With this call, the Journal GENERO invites authors from all around the world to submit papers related to theoretical discussions and empirical research from South-East Europe. Concretely, with this call we are looking for so far unpublished a) original research and b) review articles/state-of-art discussion.

Submitted articles should be linked to at least one of the following research questions:

  1. Critical actors: Who acts in the representation of women?
  2. Sites of representation: Where does the representation of women occur?
  3. Interests, issues, preferences: What does representation of women articulate?
  4. Process vs. outcome: How is representation of women expressed?

Submitted articles can be country case studies or comparative articles. We encourage articles that intersect gender and politics research with other research areas and topics, including work on women’s representation in post-conflict consociationalism.

Submissions Guidelines

Please send your full papers (5000 to 9000 words) by 31 August 2023 to generojournal@gmail.com and genero@fpn.bg.ac.rs.

Please, note that texts should be submitted to both addresses.

In case of any questions, feel free to contact the guest editor at sasa.gavric@uni-leipzig.de.

The papers will be assessed for suitability by the guest-editor, and then they will be double-blind-peer-reviewed by independent, anonymous expert referees.

GENERO is published in Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian and English languages. Submissions should conform to the Instructions for Authors of the journal.

Guest Editor

Saša Gavrić is PhD researcher and associate at the Leipzig University, working on a cumulative PhD project on the relationship between post-conflict consociationalism and the representation of women. He is the initiator and one of the current co-conveners of the Gender and Politics Research Network in South-East Europe (GenPolSEE), set up in 2022, and bringing together researchers from eight countries in South-East Europe. Saša Gavrić published around 50 books and articles, as (co)-author and (co)-editor, including ‘The Political System of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Institutions – Actors – Processes’, co-authored with D. Banovic and M. Barreiro Marino, Springer, 2021, and ‘A Contemporary LGBT History of the Western Balkans’, co-authored with J. Causevic, Belgrade Pride, 2021. Saša is an impact-oriented researcher, combining academic and political practice, working full-time as an international expert on gender equality in politics for a European inter-governmental organisation, supporting parliaments, political parties, governmental mechanisms and women’s movements in becoming gender-responsive institutions and advancing women’s political participation.