THE ROLE OF DIPLOMATIC SPOUSES: A BOURDIEUSIAN EXPLORATION Expectations and restrictions of contemporary diplomatic spouses

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Göteborgs universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Författare: Victoria Sjöberg; [2024-02-15]

Nyckelord: Diplomacy; diplomatic spouse; Bourdieu; patriarchy;

Sammanfattning: Ever since the 19th century women who marries diplomats has taken on the role of a diplomatic wife. The wives were responsible for entertaining and creating a welcoming atmosphere. It was such an essential role of diplomacy that they had courses and manuals on how to conduct themselves and how to arrange flowers and seating charts. In the 1970s, wives were, in several European countries, taking collective action to abolish these unwritten obligations. Yet, till this day, spousal labour persists. By interviewing six diplomatic wives the study aims to examine if this is the case even in very gender progressive countries. The study uses the analytical tools of Pierre Bourdieu’s practice theory to examine in what ways wives are pressured into an unpaid traditional role as well as if wives are complying to these expectations. The findings show that wives are still institutionally restricted from gaining employment. The emergence of remote work is, however, changing these opportunities. Some findings point to that the expectation of wives to quit their job and follow their husband abroad is changing while some findings point to that it is still quite strong. Moreover, they are still expected to attend events. Wives are seen as creators of relaxed, more informal, personal atmospheres which helps diplomats to bond. Many of these expectations are accepted by the wives, which is how they persist over time. Several wives view domestic labour as their natural responsibility. However, many expectations are also questioned. For one, few wives accepted to be economically dependent on their husband.

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