Sex Equality Policy in Western Europe

Sex Equality Policy in Western Europe

Sex Equality Policy in Western Europe

Sex Equality Policy in Western Europe

Synopsis

This book presents a wide-ranging comparative analysis of the development of sex-equality policies within Europe. The contributors, comprising both European and US-based scholars, address a very current political issue. This is an area of policy that has reached the decision-making stage in much of Europe and it is thus possible to assess the outcome of policy-making and to account for cross-national variations of sex-equality policy measures. The contributors discuss the similarities and differences in levels of awareness, commitment to equality of opportunity and readiness to turn rhetoric into reality in a number of west European countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, Britain, Norway and Ireland.

Excerpt

'Equality' is a prominent value and also a strongly contested issue in most, if not all, representative democracies. In most instances, however, political scientists tend to discuss equality either in terms of a philosophical debate or as a desired outcome in need of empirical verification. Few studies set out to combine both types of analysis, let alone carrying out such a combined approach from a comparative perspective. Even fewer studies exist that consciously set out to do so with respect to the-in my view underresearched, but often overpoliticised-topic of sex inequality.

In this respect, this volume, the third in the European Political Science Series, can be considered an important hallmark in the development of political science in (Western) Europe. Yet, there is more to this collection of papers, written by political scientists from various parts in Europe, which makes it both important and interesting.

First, it is an attempt to integrate the debate on a politically 'hot' issue into the process of democratic politics as well as its related political practice in terms of public policymaking. Where this has been done before, such analyses were often restricted to specific cases or issues, rather than attempting to take up sex equality as a comprehensive topic in need of explanation by means of a political scientific approach. Second, the methodology which is applied allows for the use of existing concepts and models in political science, which are, however, cogently and carefully discussed and upgraded to avoid potential 'malestream' biases and 'gender-blind' investigations. In fact, this practice implies not only a contribution to political science per se, but goes beyond much of what has been produced by feminists so far. In the second part of the book, which focuses on policy communities and the political process, for instance, the contributions render valuable insights with respect to the impact of women's movements in the policymaking process. The various case studies help us to understand how and to what extent political practices are institutionally constrained, and whether or not these outcomes are more or less the result of path-dependent

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