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The Effects of Candidate Race and Gender on Press Coverage of Political Campaigns: An Intersectional Analysis

Ward, OS; (2017) The Effects of Candidate Race and Gender on Press Coverage of Political Campaigns: An Intersectional Analysis. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Political candidates rely on news media to communicate with voters. Existing scholarship shows that racial and gendered patterns of campaign news coverage are unfavourable to minorities and women seeking elected office. Yet, the intersectional effects of race and gender have rarely been considered in this context. Recent elections have seen stark rises in the racial diversity of female candidates for the UK House of Commons and US House of Representatives. Responding to these developments, this thesis asks: What are the intersectional effects of race and gender on news coverage of political campaigns by minority women? Employing an intersectional theoretical framework, I formulate hypotheses regarding the effects of candidates’ racial and gendered identity on the amount, overall tone and content of campaign coverage they receive. Collectively, these hypotheses anticipate that most aspects of coverage will be least favourable for minority women, compared to similar candidates from other intersectional groups. A quantitative and qualitative content analysis is performed on local US, and national US and British newspaper coverage of matched samples of minority female, minority male, white female and white male candidates. The matching strategy and a series of explanatory models control for additional campaign, candidate and media factors which may affect coverage outcomes. The results show that minority women occupy a paradoxical position of hypervisibility and invisibility in the national press: a few individuals are singled out for exceptional attention while most candidates from this group struggle to receive recognition. In the local press, minority women receive less coverage than comparable white women, and less positive coverage than comparable candidates from all other groups. However, several of the hypotheses are unsupported: there little evidence of variation in the amount of viability or issue coverage candidates receive, and although stark differences emerge between the explicit and latent foregrounding of candidates’ race and/or gender, many of the relevant news frames are surprisingly positive. The qualitative analysis does however, show continued scepticism and hostility to the progressive measures which are necessary for minority women’s descriptive representation. More broadly, I argue that by considering only the effects of a single axis of identity, research on women or minorities in politics may run the risk of making claims that obscure the experiences of all but the most privileged within each group.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Effects of Candidate Race and Gender on Press Coverage of Political Campaigns: An Intersectional Analysis
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: Race, gender, intersectionality, elections, UK politics, US politics, media
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Political Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559391
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