Understanding women's involvement in local politics: how useful is a formal/informal dichotomy?

Sue Brownill, Susan Halford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Feminist critiques of the public-private (male-female) dichotomy and feminist redefinitions of what is considered ‘political’ both have major implications for considering women's political activity. Arising from this a new dichotomy has emerged which distinguishes ‘formal’ politics from ‘informal’ politics. Taking examples which supposedly lie on either side of this division—local government women's committees and women's community action in London's docklands—our paper explores the usefulness of the formal-informal dichotomy. We outline the similarities which exist between women's political activity in both spheres, the empirical and theoretical interconnections between the spheres, and suggest that the division is invalid at all but a most superficial level. This paper argues that it is vital to move beyond looking at categories to look at the political processes which underlie them.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)396-414
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Geography Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1990

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