Josephine Hoegaerts' chapter deals with the professionalization of politics in the nineteenth century, and its connection to gender. It looks at how political representation was increasingly imagined as a profession and career path for modern men, particularly in parliament, and how that path intersected with gendered narratives of lifepaths, connected to marriage, paternity, and advancing age.
This chapter focuses on a period in history in which ‘being a politician’ developed into a career-path, as representative politics became a matter of professional skill and expertise rather than a leisurely gentlemanly pursuit. It attempts to chart some ways in which the male career politician can be historicised, drawing on examples from the Belgian parliament in the long nineteenth century. Most importantly, it aims to show how this project of the ‘historicisation’ of masculinities and careers may be useful beyond the confines of the past, and how historical approaches can inform contemporary analyses of gender, the workplace, and gendered practices of political work. The chapter sketches how historians have adopted and adapted the influential model of ‘hegemonic’ masculinity and how it can be used to study modern (i.e. nineteenth and early twentieth century) careers in representative politics. From this vantage point, it reflects on the terminology of masculinity and its cultural work, how the vocabulary around it has changed and how contemporary concepts used in cultural, sociological and anthropological research can (and sometimes cannot) be mobilised for the study of particular histories. Focusing on the history of politics as an arena of professionalisation and (therefore) as a context in which masculinities were constructed and performed, the chapter aims to offer alternative analytical frameworks to understand both gender and career as processes subject to significant change.
The book is published with De Gruyter open access and is vailable here: https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/551333.