Gendering confrontational rhetoric: Discursive disorder in the British and Swedish parliaments

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Parliaments are basically adversarial settings that instantiate the polarization of political power. In debating the pros and cons of available alternatives, parliamentarians are supposed to observe convention-based institutional norms and regulations. However, in critical moments these rules are strategically violated to achieve political goals. Gender-related asymmetries in parliamentary power balance tend to emerge in disorderly parliamentary behaviour and/or disruptive discourse practices. This article focuses on the way in which the rules, procedures and practices of parliamentary interaction are being transgressed in mixed-gender encounters. The results indicate that a range of five context-specific master suppression techniques1 are used by both female and male MPs to enact and reinforce their own power position and, at the same time, to challenge and undermine the opponent's authority and credibility. A micro-level analysis of gender-related disruptive discourse practices in the UK Parliament and the Swedish Riksdag shows how different parliaments, with different rhetorical styles and traditions, often exhibit different forms and manifestations of rule violation, on the one hand, and different reactions to disorderly discursive behaviour, on the other. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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Cornelia Ilie, Malmö Högskola