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Title: Mainstreaming equality in an age of austerity : what impact has the public sector equality duty had on work to promote gender equality by English local authorities?
Author: Stephenson, Mary-Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 648X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the impact of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) on work to promote gender equality through case studies of three local authorities. It aims to both provide new empirical evidence on the impact of the PSED on the behaviour of public bodies and to analyse for the first time the relationship between mainstreaming (the approach to equality within the PSED) and reflexive/responsive regulation (the regulatory mechanism used to enforce mainstreaming). I show that the PSED has not led to the ‘transformational’ approach to equality which some hoped it would represent. Practice varies significantly within and between local authorities; while there were examples of changes as the result of the PSED, the duty was often implemented in a minimalist or bureaucratic manner. These findings support the conclusions of earlier studies of mainstreaming which identify the variety of practices described as mainstreaming and highlight the importance of participation by civil society organisations if mainstreaming is to be transformative. I find that in two of the case studies there was little recognition of or action to promote gender equality, contributing to the debate about the practical implications of replacing a focus on gender with a broader focus on equality and diversity. My analysis draws on feminist literature on mainstreaming and legal literature on reflexive and responsive regulation, which are not usually combined. I identify an important relationship between the regulatory means by which mainstreaming is enforced and the forms of mainstreaming that result. I show that although the terms reflexive and responsive regulation are often used interchangeably in analysis of the PSED there are significant differences between the two. I conclude that changes introduced by the Coalition Government reduced responsive elements in the PSED, while making it more reflexive. This increased the likelihood that public bodies would develop a bureaucratic rather than participatory form of mainstreaming in response to the PSED. I call for the introduction of a duty to consult and engage with civil society as part of the PSED. This would make the duty less reflexive, but more responsive and be more compatible with a participatory approach to mainstreaming.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory ; K Law (General)