The Europeanisation of gender equality : The unexpected case of Sweden
Sammanfattning: The main objective of this thesis is to analyse how the Swedish Equal Op-portunities Ombudsman (JämO) has used EU legislation as an opportunity for influencing the domestic policy process.Prior to Sweden’s membership in the EU, few pay-discrimination cases had been referred to the Labour Court, and none by JämO. Between 1994 and 1999, however, JämO referred six pay-discrimination cases to the Court. Although it cited EU law in all of these cases, it won only one of the cases fully, and another one in part. This impelled it to recommend that the Swedish Gender Equality Act be revised, in order to incorporate the stronger EU legislation in this area. In addition, JämO criticised the working procedures of the Labour Court, deeming them unsuitable for wage-discrimination cases. Indeed, the Gender Equality Act was revised in 2001, and the proce-dures of the Labour Court were changed in 2009.This thesis analyses JämO’s role in the revision of the Act in 2001, and in the debate over the procedures of the Court. What strategies did JämO use? Did the agency succeed in influencing these policy processes? To what extent did JämO find EU legislation useful in its efforts?To address these questions, a framework is established that combines Europeanisation and state-feminist studies. Analysing JämO in the context of European integration, this study contributes to state-feminist studies, by ex-ploring the ways in which an equality agency can use the EU in the domestic policy process. It also contributes to Europeanisation studies, by improving our theoretical understanding of how an actor’s strategies can be linked with domestic change. With this as a basis, the study then seeks to uncover how framing works, to ascertain what strategies can be employed, and to deter-mine what JämO’s impact on the two policy processes has been.The empirical findings indicate that the EU can open up strategic oppor-tunities for domestic actors, and that such actors will find “creative” ways of using the EU in the domestic process. They also show that the assumption of a “misfit”, which is commonly made in Europeanisation studies, is less rele-vant from this perspective, since the degree of such a “misfit” can be discur-sively and socially constructed by the actors involved in the process. The main finding of this study is that it is fruitful to analyse these questions in terms of the strategic behaviour of actors.
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