Understanding institutional change: a gender perspective

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This European Research Council funded five year research programme which runs from 2012-17 aims to improve our understanding of the gender dynamics of institutional change and reform. Understanding how institutions work is an important priority for all, whether they are academics, politicians or policy-makers. And it is particularly important if we want to change institutions or understand why attempts to change and reform institutions have not worked as well as had been hoped. It is also significant for gender equity. What are the gender dynamics of institutional change? Changing institutions is a fundamental part of the task of lessening gender inequality and yet the gender dynamics of institutional change are still poorly understood. Feminist scholars have long been interested in how to achieve the social, economic and political changes that will lessen inequality. Huge changes in some women's social and economic status have occurred in many part of the world in the last fifty years. Nonetheless multiple and intersecting unequal power relations as well as male domination remain commonplace in many institutional arenas – including judicial and political systems - despite measures such as quotas and equality legislation. Improving our understanding of institutional change is therefore a key undertaking for feminist, if not all, social science as well as a public policy priority. Crucially this institutional analysis will provide an important meso level link between the (sometimes unhelpful) overarching analyses of macro structures such as patriarchy and the more micro-level analysis of the actions and strategies of individual actors and groups that have often predominated. Such an approach will allow scholars to develop better explanatory frameworks while at the same time maintaining historical and contextual specificity. The programme will open new research agendas that systematically investigate how institutional change is gendered, why some forms of change appear more successful than others and how and why informal institutions operate in gendered ways. The outcomes will be of use to both academics and practitioners who want to ensure that gender equity concerns can be more effectively embedded in institutions and processes of institutional design and reform.
Friday, June 1, 2012 to Monday, May 1, 2017
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