Gender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament
280 Pages
English
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Gender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament

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280 Pages
English

Description

This book investigates gender and power relations in the Cameroonian parliament using a critical discourse analytical approach, which focuses on social issues and seeks to expose unequal relations within institutions. The study identifies different gendered discourses within the speeches of Members of Parliament and government ministers. Consciously or unconsciously, these participants within parliamentary debates draw on topics that construct women and men in specific ways, sometimes sustaining gender stereotypes or challenging existing conditions. The way men and women are constructed using language also is indicative of gender and power relations within this particular community. The study also looks at the way men and women are constructed using traditional discourses of gender differentiation and how some of these discourses get challenged, appropriated or subverted using progressive gendered discourses that advocate equal opportunities, gender equality and gender partnership in development.

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Published 01 December 2009
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EAN13 9789956715305
Language English
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Exrait

Gender, Discourse and Power
Lilian Lem Atanga
in the Cameroonian Parliament
“An insightful critical analysis of gendered parliamentary discourse that foregrounds characteristic
dominant discourse strategies, arguments and rhetorical devices employed ostensibly to construct,
entrench, sustain and legitimise patriarchal socio-cultural hegemonies, and on the other hand, equivalent
discursive strategies employed by female MPs to resist, counter, subvert and deconstruct dominant
gendered discourse in the direction of ‘gender partnership’. This makes the work, an outstanding
powerful critical analysis of the discourse of gender and power relations and a major contribution to the
gender and power debate in the developing world.”
Sammy Beban Chumbow, Professor of Language and Linguistics, University of
Yaounde, Cameroon
“This book is a pioneering study … and major contribution not only to the study of social change in
Africa, but also to gender and political linguistics.”
Dr Piet Konings, Sociologist, African Studies Centre Leiden, the Netherlands
“In Gender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament, Lilian Lem Atanga has
made an important, substantial and original contribution to the fast-growing gender and language fi eld.
As the fi eld now encompasses public as well as private settings, the focus on the parliament is very timely.
With this book, Dr Atanga has shown herself to be a key fi gure in the promotion of the study of
language and gender in African contexts.”
Dr Jane Sunderland, Professor of Gender and Language, University of Lancaster, UK
This book investigates gender and power relations in the Cameroonian parliament using a
critical discourse analytical approach, which focuses on social issues and seeks to expose
unequal relations within institutions. The study identifi es different gendered discourses
within the speeches of Members of Parliament and government ministers. Consciously
or unconsciously, these participants within parliamentary debates draw on topics that
construct women and men in specifi c ways, sometimes sustaining gender stereotypes or
challenging existing conditions. The way men and women are constructed using language
also is indicative of gender and power relations within this particular community. The
study also looks at the way men and women are constructed using traditional discourses
of gender differentiation and how some of these discourses get challenged, appropriated
or subverted using progressive gendered discourses that advocate equal opportunities, Lilian Lem Atangagender equality and gender partnership in development.
Lilian Lem Atanga lectures on Gender and Language and Discourse Analysis at the
University of Dschang, Cameroon. She has researched extensively on the effects of
language in institutional settings. Gender, Discourse and
Langaa Research & Publishing Power in the Cameroonian
Common Initiative Group
P.O. Box 902 Mankon
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Imitation WhitemanGender, Discourse
and Power in the
Cameroonian
Parliament
Lilian Lem Atanga
Langaa Research & Publishing CIG
Mankon,BamendaPublisher:
Langaa RPCIG
Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group
P.O. Box 902 Mankon
Bamenda
North West Region
Cameroon
Langaagrp@gmail.com
www.langaa-rpcig.net
Distributed outside N. America by African Books Collective
orders@africanbookscollective.com
www.africanbookscollective.com
Distributed in N. America by Michigan State University Press
msupress@msu.edu
www.msupress.msu.edu
ISBN: 9956-615-46-3
©Lilian Lem Atanga 2010
DISCLAIMER
All views expressed in this publication are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.Gender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament
Content
Dedication ............................................................................ vii
Acknowledgement ................................................................ ix
Preface................................................................................... xi
Transcription Conventions and Abbreviations .................. xiii
Figures ................................................................................. xv
Tables xvii
Chapter One
Introduction and Background ........................................................... 1
Chapter Two
Approaches To Gender, Power And Discourse Analysis ........... 23
Chapter Three
Gender Differences in Parliamentary Talk.................................... 61
Chapter Four
‘Traditional’ Gendered Discourses Articulated in the
Cameroonian Parliament ........................................................... 93
Chapter Five
Legitimating ‘A Model Traditional Cameroonian Woman’ ....... 121
Chapter Six
Modern ‘Progressive’ Gendered Discourses in the Cameroonian
Parliament .................................................................................. 165
Chapter Seven
Discursive Strategies in Legitimating ‘Positive Action
for Women’ ................................................................................ 191
Chapter Eight
Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion ........................... 215
References.......................................................................... 229
Appendices ........................................................................ 255
vGender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament
Dedication
TO MY SON, SUH ATANGA
viiGender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament
Preface
With globalisation, traditional gendered practices in most, if not all
post-colonial countries are changing. While what can be seen as
male dominance is still very much in evidence, in many aspects of
public and private life, masculine power continues to be challenged
and even subverted in different ways. This book focuses on the role
of discourse in the study of language and gender in the Cameroonian
parliament.
The study is both quantitative and qualitative. Looking at
Discussion and Question-and-Answer sessions in the parliament, I
examined the amount of male and female talk and the gendered
distribution of topics, as well as how female and male
parliamentarians were addressed (i.e. titulation). Using Critical
Discourse Analysis (the discourse-historical approach (e.g. Reisigl
and Wodak 2001; Wodak 2009)), I continued by looking in depth
at the available ‘traditional’ and modern, ‘progressive’ discourses
articulated by MPs and how these were legitimated through different
discursive strategies. Lastly, because I see power as contingent and
not absolute, I explored gender, discourse and fluctuating power,
using Feminist Post-Structuralist Discourse Analysis (Baxter, 2003)
as a supplementary approach to Critical Discourse Analysis.
The quantitative analysis of talk in the parliament showed that
‘traditional’ discourse practices are evident in this ‘modern’ setting,
evidenced by disproportionate masculine verbosity and feminine
(relative) silence. Traditional differential constructions of gender
identity were also evident in titulation.
Critical discourse analyses showed that ‘traditional’ gendered
discourses tended to construct men and women in gender
differentiated ways, legitimated discoursally in ways which included
social, cultural and institutional discourses, and arguments for what
I call ‘the model traditional Cameroonian woman’ macro-discourse
as well as for maintenance of the status quo more widely. The
‘traditional’ gendered discourses were however also appropriated,
even subverted, through the articulation and legitimation of counter
modern and ‘progressive’ discourses which construct men and
women in more equal ways, legitimating in particular positive action
ixLilian Lem Atanga
for women. Feminist post-structuralist discourse analysis showed
how groups/individuals who were at some times and in some ways
powerless (female MPs) could also be powerful, contingent upon
the different subject positions made available to them through
competing discourses, their own self- and other positioning, and
the discourses they actively accessed (sometimes with institutional
support). Similarly, a socially powerful male MP was shown to be
relatively powerless at times (through his own self-positioning, and
his positioning by a female Minister).
Through this combination of methodologies, this study
illustrates the complexity of the nature of gender and institutional
(parliamentary) discourse, and the provisional nature of power. While
sexism in the wider Cameroonian society may not be as ‘subtle’ as
is sometimes now claimed of ‘western’ societies, there is
nevertheless evidence that gender relations in Cameroon are
improving, supported by social and discoursal forces which are
global, national and institutional.
xGender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament
Transcription Conventions and Abbreviations
[…] Omitted portions
(…) Unclear untranscribed utterances
… (occupying a line) Large omitted portions of text
x … x (where x is a word) Long noticeable pauses
! Statement understood to mean an exclamation
or a rhetorical statement
? Sentence understood to mean a question
CAPITAL LETTERS High Pitch
Uhmm, ehm, you know, mhmm Gap fillers
(sentences in italics in brackets) Comments from audience or
Speaker interrupting the
person with the floor
(overlaps) (field notes)
[sentences in English in brackets] My comments (e.g.
indicating
non-verbal data, from field
notes)
MQ Male Question
MDQ Male Discussion Question
FDQ Female Discussion Question
FA Female Minister’s Answer
MA Male Minister’s Answer
Q & A Question and Answer (Session, genre)
xiGender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament
Figures
Figure 1.1
Traditional Political Set-Up Based on Bafut ................................... 6
Figure 3. 1
Talking Time by MPs in the June 2005 Session ........................... 73
Figure 3. 2
Percentage of Total Talking Time in June 2005
(male and female MPs) .............................................................. 74
Figure 3. 3
Total Talking Time MPs November 2005 Session ...................... 74
Figure 3. 4
Total Talking Time by MPs for November 25th
Q & A session ............................................................................. 77
Figure 3. 5
Average MP Talking Time Nov 25th Session in Minutes .......... 77
Figure 3. 6
Percentage of Talking Time by MPs and Ministers
in the November 2005 Session ................................................ 78
Figure 3. 7
Plenary Seating Arrangement, Cameroonian Parliament ............ 86
Figure 5. 1
Regions of Cameroon Showing Sangmelima .............................. 148
Figure 5. 2
Geographical Representation of Cameroonian Women ........... 149
Figure 5. 3
(World) Geographical Discursive Construction of Social
Practices ..................................................................................... 150
xiii