The politics of gender equality policy : a study of implementation and non-implementation in three Swedish municipalities

Sammanfattning: The question raised in this thesis is why the implementation of the Swedish government’s gender equality policy for the most part comes to a halt when it is to be implemented in local organizations. Its aim, more concretely, is to investigate and analyze the role of men in political and administrative leadership positions when this policy is to be institutionalized in the operations of these organizations. This study approaches the implementation of government policy as a political process and the framework applied to investigate this process is a modified form of Peter Bachrach and Morton Baratz’ nondecision-making model. This framework, which uses an approach to power labeled by Steven Lukes as the second face of power, is adjusted and retailored to disclose power relations and conflicts in the implementation process. It is used to document and analyze how men in political and administrative leadership positions intentionally or unintentionally engage in what is referred to as the non-implementation of gender equality policy. The findings of this study, based on an investigation of three local authorities during roughly a fifteen-year period, document and illustrate the different methods/barriers used by men in leadership to prevent, inhibit and obstruct the institutiona-lization of gender equality policy in the operations of these local authorities. Inactivity/passivity was the most prevalent form at all stages of the implementation process. Indirect forms included co-opting control of gender equality initiatives, preventing gender equality operations from acquiring resources, undermining these operations by withdrawing resources and questioning their legitimacy. Direct forms of obstruction included the “branding” of gender equality workers, undermining their professional and personal legitimacy, and harassment. The findings also reveal how some men in leadership positions, passively and actively, promoted the institutionalization of this policy. In the final chapter I discuss other factors that could be used to explain the sluggish pace of gender equality policy implementation. I also raise and discuss whether and in what sense the power struggle concerning the implementation of gender equality policy is gendered.

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