The "Un-Candidates": Gender and Outsider Signals in Women's Political Advertisements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Much has been written on whether female candidates "run as women" in their campaigns. This study explores the role of gender in political advertising through a systematic analysis of campaign commercials from U.S. House, Senate, and Governor races from 1964 to 1998. I hypothesize that candidates will use "femininity" in the commercials as a marker of "outsider" status. This theory considers image differentiation and branding as they relate to gender in political advertising. Advertisers typically use branding for two reasons: (1) to manufacture illusory differences to differentiate nearly identical products (such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi); and (2) to emphasize and expand real differences (7-UP, for instance, tries to differentiate itself from both Coca-Cola and Pepsi by branding itself the "Un-Cola"). Female candidates who correlate feminine character traits and women's issues with an outsider presentation in their campaigns are trying to be the "Un-Candidates." The data in this study reveal the importance of contextual factors in determining whether a female candidate will undertake an "un-candidate" strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-147
Number of pages33
JournalWomen and Politics
Volume25
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 18 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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