Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


McThomas, Mary

Committee Member

Dragan, Stanisevski

Committee Member

French, P. Edward

Committee Member

Shaffer, Stephen

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Political Science and Public Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


My dissertation examines gender representation in both bureaucratic agencies and standing legislative committees focusing on Corrections and Human or Social Services in eleven southern states. By examining individual public officials in both regulatory and redistributive agencies and committees, I am able to determine if active representation of women’s issues is occurring and how this impacts the policy development and implementation of domestic violence programs. Theoretical models used in examining the linkage between passive and active representation often incorporate the values and actions of public officials. The ethic of care is a theoretical approach that argues that gender differences may arise in terms of moral evaluations, perceptions of responsibilities, and the development of relationships. Therefore, care is used as a value and action in this study for two reasons. First, women’s issues, such as domestic violence, require an ethic of care to be used in assisting vulnerable populations, as victims’ needs should be addressed with care and concern. Secondly, contemporary scholarship in governance argues that emotional labor is prevalent among public officials, which suggests that care can instrumentally improve governance. This study uses a mixed method approach. Quantitative analysis explains the linkage of passive and active representation in legislative bodies. Survey instruments completed by legislators provided information on policy preferences, emotional labor, legislative responsibilities and political environment. Qualitative methods are used to develop a case study examining the link in representation in three southern state bureaucratic agencies. Administrators from these agencies were interviewed to explore their responsibilities, their ability to use care or exert emotional labor and represent women’s issues. Due to the lack of passive representation, in terms of female representation in southern governments, active representation is not reached in many units studied. However, regulatory agencies exhibit signs of active representation and the use of care and emotions in serving vulnerable populations. This study contributes to our understanding of female representation in the south as well as the impact politics have on the policy process.



southern state legislators||domestic violence policies||passive representation||women's issues||politicsministration dichotomy||emotional labor