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Women running for neighborhood offices in a Turkish city: Motivations and resources for electoral candidacy
This study is about how gender and local urban scales interact with each other to influence individuals' motivations and resources for political recruitment. The data came from interviews with twenty women who ran for and lost the 2004 local elections for their neighborhood office, muhtarlik, in Eskisehir, Turkey. Considering both individual and institutional factors and the neighborhood scale as important for women's candidacy for local offices, this paper relies on a "relational" view of citizenship while examining the mediating roles of the local scale for citizenship. My findings overall disagreed with the arguments that "women's interests" drive women to enter politics and that the local offices provide more opportunities for women's political recruitment. As women's roles and responsibilities had been changing across multiple spaces, they ran for elections to search for ways to practice their capacities in public arenas. Yet to the electorates, first, even women with high qualities for the office did not appear as the most qualified candidates. Second, most electorates tended to evaluate candidacy qualities in relation to the neighborhood office's weak status in Turkish political system and as an unskilled job. Third, they seemed to associate this "job" positively with men's traditional domestic role as the main breadwinner, consider women's charity and communal works as women's traditional care responsibilities, and to vote mostly for over-middle-aged male incumbents with locally embedded relations. Finally, women missed an opportunity for their candidacy by not transforming their local network-based assets into resources for candidacy.