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Liberal States and Print Media Coverage of Global Advocacy Events: The Case of the UN Beijing Conference for Women *

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract UN conferences and summits have played a critical role in bringing local activists’ claims to international audiences. One might assume that UN conferences, like other fora of “information politics,” rely on the global media to convey advocates’ messages. Yet, extensive research on U.S. media portrayals of UN women’s conferences, 1975–1995, have not found this to be the case. To the contrary, U.S. press coverage of these conferences follows a seemingly universal pattern of negative representations of female political candidates and public officials in the media. However, since there are sharp national differences in social policies related to women, we question whether media in other liberal democracies follow the U.S. pattern for covering UN women’s conferences or reflect the more variable pattern of diverse national policies. Comparing elite media from the United States, Canada, and Britain, we find evidence suggesting variable coverage across countries.


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