9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Gender and Power Building II, C4.01

The effect of democratic values and institutions on gender beliefs in nineteen European societies

Attitudes about the appropriate roles of women and men have changed in all European societies during last decades. However, there is a great variation in support for gender equality inside Europe, Nordic countries being the most equalitarian, while post-communist countries lag behind the Western average (Kalmijn, 2003). Part of the existing literature has focused on the individual level explanation, taking into account family context, individual resources or religiosity when predicting the individual level of support for gender equality (Baxter & Kane, 1995; Bolzendahl & Myers, 2004; Brewster & Padavic, 2000). Other studies emphasized the effect economic and technological development (Wilensky, 2002) or the impact of cultural change (Inglehart & Norris, 2003; Inglehart, Norris, Welzel, 2002) on the gender beliefs shared by individuals.
The present paper will focuses on the role of democratization as a driving force behind the changes in gender beliefs, focusing on the case of post-communist countries from Central and Eastern Europe and comparing them with long established democracies from Western Europe. In these societies, democratization brought new democratic institutions, as well as a new political culture. Consequently, the political transformation has affected gender beliefs in two ways, by changing the individual values orientation and by reshaping the societal institutions. Thus, changes in political and civic culture instill in post-totalitarian societies values of equality and tolerance which are very important for the development of a democratic society. On the other side, freedom of speech and association allowed women to publicly address question of gender equality. Using World Values Survey data collected in 2005 in nineteen European societies, this paper tests the effect of support for democracy as well as of the way in which democracy works in a given society on gender beliefs. The paper employs multilevel regression analyses in order to better capture the effect of individual orientation towards democracy, as well as the impact of societal democratization on the dependent variable.