The European Research Council (ERC) funded research project “Gender, party politics and democracy in Europe: A study of European Parliament’s party groups” (EUGenDem) provides a systematic analysis of the gendered policies and practices of European Parliament’s (EP) political groups.

The five-year (2018-2023) research project is funded by the ERC Consolidator Grant, with Professor Johanna Kantola as the Principal Investigator. It is located at the Gender Studies Department, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland. Dr Anna Elomäki and Dr Petra Ahrens are the Senior Researchers in the project, Dr Cherry Miller and Dr Barbara Gaweda are Postdoctoral Researchers and Valentine Berthet is the PhD student.

EUGenDem is a collaborative research project that addresses crucial questions about the gendered and gendering policies and practices of European party politics:

  • How does gender create lines of contestation and consensus between and within the EP’s party groups and what effects does it have on the democratic functioning of the European Union?
  • How does analysing affects and emotions deepen our understanding of the interplay between formal and informal institutions, and discourses in explaining the change and continuity in gendered norms, practices and policies of the party groups?
  • How are the EP party groups’ gendered policies and practices shaped by prevailing political projects of populism, neoliberalism, conservatism, authoritarianism, and nationalism?

To provide such critical gender analysis, EUGenDem undertakes an empirical analysis of party group policies and formal and informal practices in relation to gender. Focusing on selected party groups’ policies generates knowledge about political contestation about gender equality in relation to economy, social rights, and moral politics. The three selected policy areas cover explicitly gendered issues (gender violence), an issue where the centrality of gender is recognized but easily eclipsed (European Pillar of Social Rights), and an issue where gendered consequences are severe, but linkages to gender are omitted (economic governance).

Research potential lies in the key methodological and theoretical innovations whereby the EUGenDem project links informal institutions, everyday practices, and discourses to affects and emotions, generating research designs like parliamentary ethnography with which the persistence of gender inequalities can be analysed more thoroughly than current gender and politics research allows. More nuanced conceptualizations, and theories of inclusive representation, gender justice, and democracy at the transnational level, are a likely consequence of adopting an innovative methodological approach where empirical findings inform the theoretical level.

Therefore, the project has a high societal impact as it speaks directly to the current political crises in Europe, and provides an understanding of their gendered underpinnings.

During the first stage of the project (1.8.2018 – 31.12.2019) the data collection was executed through an extensive qualitative pilot study using expert interviews from October 2018 to May 2019. The first results of the analysis appear in the project publications section. From January 2020 onward, the EUGenDem team is continuing fieldwork in the EP in Brussels, conducting parliamentary ethnography and specialized policy interviews as a second stage of data collection for the project.