"Who Let Her Out of the Kitchen?" Gender and Discourse in the 2018 United States Midterm Elections Restricted; Files Only

Schnitzer, Katherine (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1r66j219w?locale=en
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Abstract

Sociological theory and research has established gender as an important social construct that influences individuals, groups, and discourse about women and men. Expanding on Doing Gender Theory (Zimmerman and West 1987), Social Role Theory (Meeks 2012), and the prevailing body of research on gender, politics, and media discourse, I investigate the gendered discourse around two political candidates in the 2018 United States midterm election. Specifically, I look at the discourse on the social media (Instagram) accounts of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke during their congressional campaigns. I gathered all of the comments on all of the Instagram posts of each candidate, and I analyze the effect gender has on discourse. Given past empirical research findings, I predict that Ocasio-Cortez will receive a higher percentage of negative comments than O’Rourke and that she will receive more comments about her physical appearance and lack of competence than O’Rourke. I predict that O’Rourke will receive more comments calling for him to run for president than Ocasio-Cortez. Through a content analysis of Ocasio-Cortez and O’Rourke’s Instagram comments, I find support for my hypotheses. I find that discourse differs by gender in a few key ways: Ocasio-Cortez’s posts have a higher percentage of negative comments than O’Rourke’s posts. Ocasio-Cortez receives more positive and negative comments about appearance and negative comments about competence than O’Rourke. Ocasio-Cortez receives a degree of violence in the comments not found in O’Rourke’s comments at all. According to my analysis, gender affects discourse most often when candidates “do gender” incorrectly.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………..............................................1

II. Research Questions……………………………………………………………………………….............................................2

III. Theoretical Framework and Empirical Research……………………………………………..........................................3

Gender…………………………………………………………………………………………….................................................3

Gender and Politics……………………………………………………………………………….............................................5

Discourse and Media……………………………………………………………………………..............................................7

IV. Hypotheses.......................................................................................................................................................10

V. Methods............................................................................................................................................................11

Research Design………………………………………………………………………………….............................................11

Data………………………………………………………………………………………………................................................12

Operationalization and Measures.....................................................................................................................16

Data Collection…………………………………………………………………………………...............................................18

Data Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………...............................................19

VI. Results……………………………………………………………………………………………...............................................20

Overall Sentiment and Themes………………………………………………………………….........................................20

Positive Themes………………………………………………………………………………….............................................22

Negative Themes…………………………………………………………………………………............................................26

VII. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………...............................................33

VIII. References………………………………………………………………………………………...............................................38

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