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Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
This essay starts by analysing concepts of participation and citizenship and then applies them to one group – women. The reconstruction of the genesis of rights of citizenship, and of the various stages of their acquisition, reveals how women are behind at all such stages and in all regimes: in liberal regimes which project civil society's relations of power over political society, and in authoritarian regimes in which it is the state itself which wishes to forge the relations of civil society. At all events, it is the woman's encapsulation in the family which justifies her political subordination.
The evolution of rights of citizenship also provides pointers for analysis of participation: with the introduction of universal suffrage, material endowments cease to be formal criteria of access to political rights and become, instead, de facto conditions for the exercising of such rights. Citizenship makes participation possible in that it provides it with rights and material endowments. One of these rights is the curbing of the pressure social and political elites bring to bear. This is not enough, however, especially for the groups that are thereby excluded: guiding elites also have a part to play. In this respect, the history of women as a group reveals a paradox: those who would be culturally inclined to support women find that it is disadvantageous to do so for the female vote shows a greater tendency to favour the religious parties – the main advocates of encapsulation.
This contradiction seems now to be resolving itself. And more generally, women seem – albeit with painful slowness – to be fighting back against exclusion. So what consequences can cuts in social spending have on this process? Finally, a doubt still remains: to what extent is the self-exclusion of women induced, and to what extent does it derive from natural tendencies? In other words, where does the imposition of the rôle end, and where does specificity, the enjoyment of it, begin?