Gender and ethnicity in politics : an intersectional approach to New Zealand and French media coverage : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Communication at Massey University, Wellington Campus, New Zealand

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Galy-Badenas, Flora
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Massey University
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Media play an important role in reinforcing dominant ideologies and in shaping people’s opinions. Previous studies of media representations of women politicians, many conducted in the US, have illustrated how biased coverage may convey a negative image of these women politicians to an audience. This project contributes to the literature by examining discriminatory media discourses, with a special focus on the representations of minority women politicians outside of the North American context. It investigates the role media discourses play in reproducing and perpetuating hegemonic ideologies that sustain the oppression of and discrimination against some groups in the specific contexts of Aotearoa New Zealand and France. To this effect, this project analyses media representation of five high-profile women politicians: Jacinda Ardern, Rachida Dati, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Metiria Turei, and Paula Bennett. Grounded in social constructionism, this project draws on concepts of neoliberal-feminism, Othering, anti-Māori themes, and intersectionality. Methods used include reflexive thematic analysis, feminist critical discourse analysis (FCDA), and intersectionality to analyse data from mainstream news media in Aotearoa New Zealand and France. This project includes three empirical studies. The first one explores the reproduction of, and to some extent the challenging of, dominant ideologies about gender roles in pregnancy, parenthood, and work/family balance through coverage of Ardern’s pregnancy in both New Zealand and international media. The following two articles extend Article I by integrating the concept of intersectionality into the analysis to consider how the combination of various social identities contribute to the construction of varying discriminatory discourses in culturally diverse environments. Article II examines the Othering of Dati and Vallaud-Belkacem in French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro, arguing that the immigrant background of both ministers is frequently mentioned in their coverage, especially in reference to their missteps, which effectively render them illegitimate in their ministerial roles. The intersection of other social identities furthers the Othering process present in the coverage of these two minority women politicians. Finally, Article III explores the construction of Turei and Bennett in terms of anti-Māori themes in New Zealand media, demonstrating that both ministers are denigrated both as individuals and in their political roles, but on different grounds: Bennett’s alignment to the Establishment is reflected in the more gendered coverage she received; whereas Turei, who represents the anti-Establishment, is marginalised for her Māoriness along with her gender. Results of all three studies illuminate the complexity of discourses, especially when they involve various intersecting social identities, and the importance of taking into account the societal, political, and historical context in which media discourses are constructed. This research project contributes to the gendered and racialised mediation literature, and furthers the discussion on intersectionality.
Minority women, Women politicians, Press coverage, France, New Zealand