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Democratic Autonomy, Women's Interests and Institutional Context

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ian O'FlynnORCiD



Many democratic systems explicitly recognise and accommodate the interests of particular ethnic groups within their decision procedures. This is true, for example, of the democratic system established under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. But the question remains as to whether those systems leave sufficient space for the recognition and accommodation of other kinds of political interests. In this article, I seek to explore this question with respect to the political interests of women, understood in relational terms. To this end, I defend a particular reading of the value of personal autonomy. Having shown how that principle relates to the value of political equality, I then show how it might be realised and applied by women along three different dimensions. Finally, I use this elaboration of the principle of personal autonomy as a means of evaluating the democratic quality of Northern Ireland’s electoral system and Assembly decision rules.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Flynn I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Irish Political Studies

Year: 2007

Volume: 22

Issue: 4

Pages: 455-471

ISSN (print): 0790-7184

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9078

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/07907180701699208


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