Scandinavia is often regarded as a laboratory for gender equality, and in no other regions of the world have women been politically prominent for so long. It therefore offers a unique context for analysing women's and men's political discourse. This volume examines the ways Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish politicians present themselves and their messages in televised election debates. An ideal debate would provide political actors with an equal opportunity to air their positions. However, this rudimentary standard of fairness is rarely satisfied in practice. Rather than granting all participating equality, debates often become events in which prior inequalities, such as gender, age, class and status, are re-enacted. "Instead of the Ideal Debate" seeks to discover how these inequalities, especially that of gender, manifest themselves. How are discursive similarities and difference created? How do male and female politicians employ, bend and violate debate rules to portray themselves as competent and trustworthy?
The authors of individual chapters adopt a comparative approach, analysing indicators such as the relationship between argumentative and symbolic, the strategic deployment of the word "we" and the use of ethos argumentation. In introduction and conclusion, the editors situate the empirical findings within a broader theoretical framework. This book should be of interest to students of anthropology, communications, gender studies and political science.