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Is Mainstreaming Transformative? Theorizing Mainstreaming in the Context of Diversity and Deliberation1
This article locates mainstreaming within a typology of inclusion, reversal, and displacement and maps these three approaches to mainstreaming, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of each. It focuses on the potential of the transformative approach and suggests that, if augmented by the resources of deliberative democracy, this transformative model of mainstreaming is best placed to respond to the increasingly important demands of diversity. It suggests that deliberative mechanisms, such as citizens’ forums, could be useful in enhancing this transformative model of mainstreaming.
Is gender mainstreaming a transformative strategy, a bureaucratic tool of integration, or an agenda-setting process? I will explore this question in relation to the current policy concern with “diversity” and recent theoretical debates concerning the pursuit of democratic inclusion. The first part of the paper outlines the threefold typology of inclusion, reversal, and displacement (Squires 1999) and locates mainstreaming within this typology. I argue that while it is possible to depict
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Is Mainstreaming Transformative?
mainstreaming as a strategy of displacement (where equal treatment and positive action are viewed as strategies of inclusion and reversal, respectively), one can also find each of the strategies of inclusion, reversal, and displacement within mainstreaming practices. I then go on to map these three approaches to mainstreaming, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of each. While acknowledging the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the integrationist and agenda-setting approaches, I argue in particular for the need to develop the potential of the transformative approach. In order to develop its currently underspecified potential, I consider the benefits of integrating theories of democratic inclusion into this mainstreaming model. I suggest that, augmented by a commitment to democratic inclusion, this transformative model of mainstreaming is best placed to respond to the—increasingly important—demands of diversity. For while the concept of mainstreaming has recently been invoked in relation to anti-racism and disability policies (see Shaw 2004, 5–6), little has been done in terms of developing diversity mainstreaming, as opposed to gender mainstreaming, strategies to date. Gender mainstreaming is widely perceived, within the European Union and among international organizations, to be a new equality strategy. There has been considerable progress in developing mainstreaming as a set of tools and methods (Yeandle et al. 1998), yet the transformative potential and theoretical coherence of mainstreaming as an equality strategy has been obscured by the piecemeal implementation of mainstreaming tools formulated within specific policy contexts (Hoskyns 1992). There have, of course, been discussions of gender mainstreaming in relation to various theoretical literatures: notably, feminist theory (Cockburn 1991, Stratigaki 2004, Walby 2004), theories of organizational practice (Rees 1998, Rubery 2002), social movement theory (Pollack and Hafner-Burton 2000), legal theory (Beveridge and Nott 2002), and transnational policy diffusion (True and Mintrom 2001). Yet there have been relatively few sustained attempts to consider mainstreaming in the context of a diversity agenda or in relation to democratic theory. This article attempts to address this absence. I suggest that, at a time when EU directives require member states to promote equality in relation to sexual orientation, age, and religion, in addition to race, gender, and disability, it simply doesn’t make sense to look at gender equality in isolation from other forms of equality. Equality can no longer be considered in isolation from diversity. Understanding what mainstreaming might entail in the context of diversity and not just gender represents a significant challenge. Given the plurality of equality agendas held by diverse groups and the difficulty of ascertaining these by bureaucratic mechanisms, the role of inclusive deliberation should be stressed. This transforms mainstreaming from a technocratic tool into an institutional manifestation of deliberative democracy.
informed by three distinct theoretical frameworks. which I have previously defined as inclusion. I would suggest that there are three analytically distinct ways of conceptualizing mainstreaming. possibly attributable to its rapid ascendancy and “lack of ownership” (Beveridge and Nott 2002. and displacement (Squires 1999). It is a means to “reorganize. and espouse an equality politics (and are often labeled as liberal feminist). 67 final). and the strategy of displacement seeks to deconstruct those discursive regimes that engender the subject.368 ◆ Squires Mainstreaming as a Gender Equality Strategy Accounts of mainstreaming vary. their effects on the respective situation of women and men in implementation. It is claimed to be a policy “to promote equality between men and women” (EU COM 96. diversity. develop and evaluate policy processes in order to incorporate a gender equality perspective” (Council of Europe 1998. Those pursuing a strategy of displacement adopt a genealogical methodology. the strategy of reversal seeks recognition for a specifically female gendered identity. I . equal treatment. more recently.” and espouse a difference politics (and are often labeled as radical feminist). 299). priorities and needs of women and men in all policies and with a view to promoting equality between women and men and mobilizing all general policies and measures specifically for the purpose of achieving equality by actively and openly taking into account. talk of “Woman” or “women. 28). The strategy of inclusion seeks gender-neutrality. women’s perspectives. It is “the systemic integration of the respective situations. However. I would suggest that mainstreaming is widely conceived to represent a displacement of the equality/difference debate. Those pursuing a strategy of reversal usually adopt an interpretative methodology. improve. Nonetheless. The place of mainstreaming in relation to this threefold typology is rather complex. and as such might best be viewed as a strategy of displacement. 2). It is “efforts to scrutinize and reinvent processes of policy formation and implementation across all issue areas to address and rectify persistent and emerging disparities between men and women” (True and Mintrom 2001. and espouse a diversity politics (and are often labeled as postmodern). reversal. 2–3). conceive of people as autonomous. monitoring and evaluation” (Commission of the European Communities 1996. gendered perspectives or. gender. Those pursuing a strategy of inclusion usually aspire to objectivity (whether cognitive or moral). speak of subject positions and of gendering (as a verb) rather than gender (as a noun). renders the concept somewhat vague in practice. at the planning stage. Mainstreaming is variously understood to entail mainstreaming equal opportunities. The sheer diversity of definitions of mainstreaming.
48). While equality is understood in this way. Teresa Rees. which Rees labels “tinkering. These three approaches. but as yet another manifestation of it.” respectively. Lister 1997. frequently referred to as “Wollstonecraft’s dilemma” (Pateman 1989. gender difference appears to be inextricable from sexism (Fraser 1997.196–97). to grant women equal rights with men. Let me briefly outline each approach in turn. This is what I label a diversity perspective. it is best viewed not as resolution or displacement of the equality/difference debate.127–32). such that it entails within its conceptual boundaries this same threefold typology. Those committed to liberal principles of equality have argued for the need to transcend sexist presumptions about gender difference.” and “transforming. Yet it is now increasingly accepted that equality and difference are only incompatible if equality is understood as sameness (Bacchi 1999. and displacement outlined above.Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 369 would also suggest that mainstreaming itself is variously conceived. 266. 96. By contrast. suggests that one can identify three phases in the European Commission’s approach to gender equality over the last three decades: equal treatment in the 1970s. Neither the sameness nor the difference perspectives therefore entail a transformation of the norms of equivalence themselves. those who adopt a difference perspective feel that in the context of a patriarchal society.” Positive action recognizes that there are . for example. and to enable women to participate equally with men in the public sphere.” “tailoring. we need to render visible the ways in which particular institutions and laws perpetuate inequality by privileging particular norms. the pursuit of equality will inevitably result in requiring everyone to assimilate to the dominant gender norm of masculinity. As such. 100). that equality and difference are antagonistic aims. For this. One can see the same three approaches manifest in gender equality strategies. Equal treatment is a “legal redress to treat men and women the same. because it secures gender privilege through naming women as difference and men as the neutral standard of the same” (Brown 1995. as distinct from both the equality and difference perspectives that constitute Wollstonecraft’s dilemma. The central normative issue here is whether gender equality requires de-gendering or the equal valuation of different contributions by women and men. Mainstreaming as a Strategy of Displacement Debates about equality within feminist writings have been shaped by a perception. map fairly neatly onto the three strategies of inclusion. positive action in the 1980s. From this perspective. 153). reversal. Squires 1999. and gender mainstreaming in the 1990s (Rees 2002. gender consistently emerges as a problem of difference: “Equality as sameness is a gendered formulation of equality.
In this way. reversal. It is because it takes a systems approach that it is felt to have more transformative potential than previous equality policies. and displacement manifest within mainstreaming practices themselves. clearly states that “mainstreaming is a long-term strategy that needs to be accompanied by the secure underpinning of equal treatment legislation and positive action measures” (Rees 1999. and gender mainstreaming can be viewed as distinct approaches to equality. Others suggest that increased political opportunities and mobilizing structures for social movements have been central (Pollack and Hafner-Burton 2000.370 ◆ Squires differences between men and women and that specific measures are required to address disadvantages experienced by women as a consequence of those differences. as embodied in equal treatment and positive action. equal treatment. I would also suggest that one finds the three strategies of inclusion. Some commentators argue that a “small number of key actors in the European Commission” envisioned the strategy (Booth and Bennett 2002. 166). Equality strategies then become “justificatory strategies” rather than normatively incompatible commitments. The three approaches are. 46–48). while one can conceptualize mainstreaming as a strategy of displacement. This suggests that many advocates of gender equality strategies may be committed to a pragmatic endorsement of whichever perspective seems likely to generate the best results in any given circumstances. most commonly viewed by equality professionals as cumulative and complementary rather than as competing or incompatible. positive action. It takes us beyond the classic opposition between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. however.2 Mainstreaming “ideally should involve identifying how existing systems and structures cause indirect discrimination and altering or redesigning them as appropriate” (Rees 2002. and what it entails. Still others emphasize the role of . The aim of the mainstreaming strategy is to counteract gender bias within existing systems and structures: it addresses “those very institutionalized practices that cause both individual and group disadvantage in the first place” (Rees 2000. 3). 440). For example. 434). by focusing on the structural reproduction of gender inequality and aiming to transform the policy process such that gender bias is eliminated. for example. Rees. Three Varieties of Mainstreaming However. which emerge incrementally—in large part developing from and improving upon the earlier approach(es). vary significantly. accounts of how mainstreaming has emerged as a notable policy innovation.
44–49). rather than pitting these explanations against one another. agenda-setting. for instance. This indicates that gender mainstreaming is most likely to be adopted when key experts are present within the state. and transnational networks are all in place. Notwithstanding the intermingling of these three models of mainstreaming in practice. 432). when there are appropriate political opportunities for social movement participation. Mark Pollack and Emilie Hafner-Burton talk of “mainstreaming gender” (2000. social movement participation. at least on pragmatic grounds. and those who perceive mainstreaming to be a product of transnational norm diffusion conceive of it as an open-ended and potentially transformative project. the greater the presence of women in positions of state power. The features of the third. one might reasonably suggest that all are relevant. However. the greater the likelihood that its government will adopt a gender mainstreaming strategy (2001. model of mainstreaming are much less easy to discern—in theory or . 126). These three accounts of the derivation of mainstreaming generate three distinct correlative accounts of the nature of mainstreaming. 28–29). find that the higher the level of democracy in a country. 371). while those who perceive mainstreaming to be a product of women’s movement campaigning conceive of it as a way of mainstreaming women’s voices. This suggests in turn that mainstreaming might be most likely to be a truly transformative strategy when technocratic expertise. and the higher the proportion of women gaining formal education. Jacqui True talks of mainstreaming “a gender-equality perspective” (2003. Lombardo 2003). Christine Booth and Cinnamon Bennett talk of “mainstreaming equal opportunities” (2002. labeled as “integrationist. In other words. 431). while the second model is perceived as entailing a focus on the participation. transformative. The first approach is now fairly widely accepted to entail a focus on experts and the bureaucratic creation of evidence-based knowledge in policy-making. and empowerment of disadvantaged groups (usually women in this context) via consultation with civil society organizations (see Beveridge and Nott 2002. in turn. 301. one might suggest—rather schematically—that those who perceive mainstreaming to be a product of bureaucratic policy process conceive of it as a way of mainstreaming formal equality of opportunities. and transformative” approaches (Jahan 1995. suggests that there is a place for equal treatment and positive action within mainstreaming. and when transnational women’s networks are effective at an international level. This.Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 371 transnational networks and international nongovernmental organizations (True and Mintrom 2001. presence. a survey of the literature on mainstreaming to date indicates that it is analytically useful to understand approaches to mainstreaming via a threefold typology. True and Mintrom.
For instance.372 ◆ Squires in practice. integration of a gender perspective. 439). they have usually focused their attention on the pros and cons of the integrationist and agenda-setting models in practice. it might also on the other hand be viewed as a catch-all concept that incorporates the tension within its boundaries. Mainstreaming in Relation to the “Inclusion. Given the existence of these three distinct conceptions of mainstreaming.(Table 1) I would suggest that of the three analytically distinct conceptualizations of mainstreaming. and comes to be viewed as a broad strategy that entails the incorporation of the other two strategies as and when appropriate. which suggests that while analytically distinct. While scholars have repeatedly advocated a transformative model of mainstreaming in theory. only the transformative conceptualization represents a displacement of the equality/difference dichotomy. and Transformation” Typology Inclusion Gender perspective Equality policy Mainstreaming Equality Equal opps. it becomes clear that while mainstreaming might on the one hand be taken to represent a displacement of the equality/difference dichotomy. In this way. comparative research into the implementation of mainstreaming strategies suggests that different definitions of mainstreaming are used according to institutional context (see Yeandle et al. the group of specialists that informed the Council of Europe debate on mainstreaming identified three key aspects of mainstreaming: a set of techniques or tools. Reversal. prolonging the hold of Wollstonecraft’s dilemma on gender debate. Indeed. one can see elements of each within many of the definitions of mainstreaming that have been developed to date. these three understandings of mainstreaming can co-exist at a policy level. mainstreaming ceases to be understood as a distinctive equality strategy that moves beyond the previous strategies of equality of opportunity and positive action. Table 1. I take these three aspects as deriving from the three different conceptualizations of mainstreaming outlined above. 1998). and a political process of ownership (see Booth and Bennett 2002. This has led some scholars to suggest that the three approaches to mainstreaming should be viewed as complementary rather than competing. Integrationist Reversal Difference Positive action Agenda-setting Displacement Diversity Gender mainstreaming Transformative . Yet elements of all three analytical conceptualizations might co-exist within the actual implementation of the strategy. Moreover.
Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 373 While accepting this pragmatic conclusion. Mainstreaming Strategies Main streaming Model Actors Aims Inclusion Reversal Displacement Transformative Political citizens Denaturalizing and thereby politicizing policy norms Deliberative Cultural transformation Sensitive to diversity Integrationist Agenda-setting Experts Identity groups Neutral Recognizing policy-making marginalized voices Processes Bureaucratic Consultative Indicators Policy Politics of instruments presence Strengths Effective Group integration perspectives recognized Weaknesses Rhetorical Reification. Strengths and Weaknesses of the Integrationist Model One of the key strengths of the integrationist model of mainstreaming is its effectiveness in allowing gender experts an important role in the policy formation process (Woodward 2003). The main concern here is that of rhetorical entrapment. rather than on ideology or stereotypes (Beveridge and Nott 2002.(Table 2) Integrationist mainstreaming relies on experts within existing bureaucracies to pursue neutral policy-making. However. in order both to evaluate which mainstreaming approach is likely to be most useful in any given context. to be effective. and manifest specific problems relating to each. Agenda-setting mainstreaming relies on women’s groups within civil society to articulate their group perspectives. and to ascertain whether there are principled as well as pragmatic grounds for arguing that there is a place for equal treatment and positive action within mainstreaming. Evaluating the Three Mainstreaming Models Many articulations of mainstreaming are primarily either integrationist or agenda-setting. entrapment “women only” Complexity. 301). gender mainstreaming must be understood and implemented by the regular actors in the policy-making process. it is important nonetheless to be clear about the potential strengths and weaknesses of the three approaches. The main concern here is that of reification. Table 2. This in turn ensures that policy-making is based on “gendered” knowledge. lack of specificity .
discrimination in employment has a huge price. It affects our productivity and profitability. Its strength lies in its ability to realize effective integration. more modern. this usually means that gender equality is argued to be better for both women and men. to improve productivity. and behavior. give them the competitive edge” (WEU.htm). Strengths and Weaknesses of the Agenda-Setting Model The key strength of the agenda-setting model. reduces the scope for wider consultation with “non-experts. mainstreaming becomes a way of thinking about users as distinct groups with differing needs. There is also the danger that. In order to do so. mainstreaming will be adopted as a technocratic tool in policy-making. 10). This demand to limit the scope of mainstreaming tools such that they fit easily within existing policy processes potentially delimits the potential of mainstreaming itself. as Mieke Verloo points out. which matters if one is concerned about delivering customer and user satisfaction. time. 15). “unfair discrimination is plainly wrong. Frame extension and bridging is needed to bring the goal of gender equality into alignment with the existing frames and norms of politicians and civil servants.gov. its weakness lies in its tendency to fall into rhetorical entrapment. by contrast. once accepted as a norm that resonates with the dominant policy frame. beyond the tragic cost to individuals experiencing discrimination. characteristics. and expertise (Verloo 2001. Tellingly.womenandequalityunit. The “business case” for mainstreaming is frequently the only case offered for “why gender equality matters”: as the UK Women and Equality Unit states on its website. lies in its aspiration to recognize the perspectives and concerns of women . In the context of contemporary governance. Here.. The necessity of engaging in this process of “frame bridging” means that there is always a danger of “rhetorical entrapment” (Verloo 2001. Gender Impact Assessments have largely been introduced where they are not too demanding in terms of costs. it needs to “resonate” with the existing frames within which regular actors operate: it needs to “seduce” them (Verloo 2001. http://www. and to facilitate better. It stops people realizing their potential. based on equality and diversity. 9). It raises questions about the political accountability of experts.” and so reduces the likelihood that the policy agenda will reflect the particular experiences and concerns of women that do not resonate with the pre-existing policy framework. and prevents businesses from using skills and talents to good effect.374 ◆ Squires It must.uk/equality/matter. government. convince these actors that policymakers are a part of “the problem” without alienating them from the mainstreaming project. The best (business and service providers) already know that good employment practices.. depoliticizing the issue of gender inequality itself.
while still promoting equality via the systematic integration of diverse perspectives into the policy-making process. This lack of specificity takes two forms: practical and conceptual. countering the top-down approach to agenda-setting and problem solving. 74) and endangers national identity (Miller 1995. ideally avoiding the problems of both rhetorical entrapment and reification. express concerns about its potential to reify identity. 194). entrenching political opportunities in structures that require one to speak “as a woman” first and foremost. in focusing on particular organizations as representative of women’s views. the weakness inherent in the agenda-setting model is the danger of reification. So. . reinforcing the tendency of such groups to become exclusionary to outsiders and coercive to insiders” (Kiss 1999. this approach focuses on the importance of consultation with non-governmental organizations and social movements (see Donaghy and Kelly 2001). Even those sympathetic to a “politics of recognition. of course. its weakness is its tendency to reify group identities. 132). Its lack of practical specificity arises from the fact that it remains primarily theoretical. obscuring both intra-group divisions and inter-group commonalities. this strategy might privilege certain gendered identities over others. rather than establishing and implementing alternative policy aims in their place. The clear weakness of this model is. and leads to a fetishism of identity groups. its lack of specificity.” which shares the same normative principles as agenda-setting mainstreaming. Rather than relying on bureaucratic policy instruments. with very few practical features or concrete articulations. which may obscure struggles within groups (see Fraser 2000). while the weakness inherent in the integrationist model is the danger of rhetorical entrapment.Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 375 outside the policy-making elite. The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Transformative Model So. The weaknesses inherent in these two models suggest that there are good reasons to consider the transformative model of mainstreaming as the way forward. diverts attention from widening material inequality. a “focus on affirming identity produces debilitating political fragmentation. As one critic notes. The concern is that this may formalize and freeze identities that are actually subject to constant change and thereby undermine solidarity across groups. while the strength of this model is its ability to recognize group perspectives from outside the existing policy-making elite. Others have argued that the “retribalization” inherent in group-specific claims erodes a sense of public-spiritedness (Elshtain 1995. Its lack of conceptual specificity arises from its theoretical commitment to denaturalizing and thereby politicizing policy aims. The potential weakness of this “agenda-setting” model is that.
As a consequence. this concern pertains to all three models and. I suggest that the transformative model of mainstreaming should draw upon the resources developed within democratic theory. of the three models. Over the last fifteen years.376 ◆ Squires In this sense. disabled. the European Union has pursued strategies of both gender mainstreaming and gender-balanced decision-making. This discursive shift brought “diversity” to the fore as central to the theoretical conceptualization of equality. While attempts to address economic inequalities have traditionally focused on distributive issues. Another concern is that the introduction of mainstreaming may be used to deflect attention away from issues of the presence of women in decision-making processes. religion. As Patricia Hill Collins suggests. economic class. the elderly. contemporary equality policies in the first world tend to focus on issues of cultural and political inequality rather than inequalities in distributional goods. but has rarely articulated the nature of the relation between the two. Nonetheless. it is worth beginning to outline what the model might practically entail. disability. sexuality. “viewing gender within a logic of intersectionality redefines it as a constellation of ideas and social practices that are historically situated within and that mutually construct multiple systems of oppression” (Hill Collins 1999. for example. the transformative model does not have a conception of equality (or a prior conception of “the good”). Diversity Mainstreaming? It has long been accepted that one significant challenge for contemporary equality theorists is to engage with the intersecting hierarchies of gender. and age. Those who are considered to be “unequal” are increasingly seen to be ethnic minorities. as a precondition . religious minorities. gays and lesbians. seeking to erase the (economic) differences between people as the means of securing their equality. But let us first briefly consider the significance of the emergent concern with “diversity” for mainstreaming practices. Meanwhile. rather than the poor. race. one of the greatest strengths of this transformative model is that it is best placed. 263). For this reason. to address the emergent “diversity” agenda. attempts to address cultural and political inequalities usually entail calls that (cultural) differences be recognized and respected. and so on. rather than denied or eroded. Some theorists suggest that the commitment to the former may now be eclipsing the commitment to the latter (see Krook 2005). we have witnessed the emergence of a commitment to pursuing and theorizing equality in a way that acknowledges and celebrates differences. I would suggest.
” Given that international. so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels at all stages.” in June 2003. For example. The Council of Europe endorsed gender mainstreaming in 1998. by the actors normally involved in policy making” (Council of Europe 1998. disability. regional. disability. Equality now appears. and in addition to its mainstreaming strategy. 15). Yet the adoption of Article 13 of the EC Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 further empowered the European Community to take action to deal with discrimination relating to race or ethnic origin. mainstreaming will also need to speak to diversity. Given the current normative concerns and legal requirements to consider equality in relation to various strands. and sexual orientation. 10) Accordingly. Its approach to gender mainstreaming is perhaps best exemplified through the work of the Women and Equality Unit (WEU. This provides the framework for an integrated equality strategy ”based on the premise that equal treatment and respect for diversity are in the interests of society as a whole” (EC Green Paper 2004. there is a real need for a little theoretical guidance as to how these two might co-exist. to require a respect for diversity. “diversity management” emerged as a central equality strategy at more or less the same time as gender mainstreaming. and local institutions of governance are increasingly attempting to negotiate the twin demands of diversity management and gender mainstreaming. Interestingly. race. the European Commission launched a five-year. improvement. 13). “For Diversity—Against Discrimination. age. EU-wide information campaign. including age. and gender. national. Meanwhile.Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 377 for securing their equality. aiming to “promote the positive benefits of diversity for business and for society as a whole” (EC Green Paper 2004. the UK government adopted gender mainstreaming as its gender policy in 1998 (Cabinet Office 1998). sexuality. and gender equality in particular has long been recognized as one of the EU’s core objectives (see Rossilli 2000). religion. in both policy and theory debates. development and evaluation of policy processes. This commitment to gender equality has included the adoption and promotion of gender mainstreaming strategies. yet there have been few attempts to consider the theoretical interconnections between the two. both the diversity and gender mainstreaming discourses have been actively adopted and disseminated by the EU. the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination are at the heart of the European Social Model. or to develop a coherent theoretical approach to “diversity mainstreaming. religion or belief. defining it as “the (re)organisation. In other words. and since then it has been developing a series of policy instruments to implement this policy. see Beveridge .
” The “equality and diversity” discourse is also prevalent throughout the wider society: 2002 saw the formation of the “Equality and Diversity Forum” to promote dialogue across the equality strands. Yet there are concerns about the emergence of the “diversity” agenda that need to be considered. Price 2003. and keep the organization flexible (see Cartwright 2001.” locating the emergence of diversity management within the logic of Taylorized capitalism (Hennessy 2000) and bemoaning the replacement of a moral issue by a business strategy (Wrench 2003. and sexual orientation (Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000. and not just gender. some theorists adopt a highly skeptical view of “diversity. In this context. and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has “equality and diversity advisers”.  OJ L303/16). major banks have “equality and diversity strategies”. it plans to establish a single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) to oversee its new integrated approach to “equality and diversity. This suggests that regional and national governments are attempting to negotiate both diversity management and gender mainstreaming under a broad commitment to “equality and diversity.” The establishment of the CEHR will further institutionalize the “equality and diversity” discourse that has emerged so swiftly onto the policy agenda of the UK. Thompson 1998). religion. increase creativity.  OJ L180/22) and age.” When evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the three models of gender mainstreaming. 10). Diversity initiatives are widely argued to improve the quality of organizations’ workforces and act as a catalyst for a better return on companies’ investment in human capital. attract the best and the brightest employees. While the shift from the pursuit of “equality” to a celebration of “equality and diversity” could be viewed as a positive policy response to the long-standing theoretical concerns with inter-sectionality. disability.378 ◆ Squires et al. Meanwhile. Squires and Wickham-Jones 2002 and 2004). any attempt to find a possible synergy between diversity . one of our concerns might therefore reasonably be the extent to which these models are capable of mainstreaming with relation to all of the various equality strands. 2000. and most universities now have “equality and diversity teams. They are also argued to help businesses to capitalize on new markets. Conciliation. the Advisory. the Learning and Skills Council offers “Equality and Diversity Guidance”. Given this. In this context. the government has a final deadline of 2006 for legislation implementing European directives on equal treatment on the basis of race and ethnic origin (Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 20 June 2000. it is worth noting that “diversity management” has its roots in corporate human resource management and is here conceived of primarily as a means to produce economic productivity rather than social justice (Wrench 2003).
many feminists have suggested that multiculturalism and feminism not only stand in tension to each other. Its strength would be that it resonates with the dominant logic of government.4 To conceive of diversity mainstreaming from this perspective is to focus attention on the market and to embrace the neo-liberal rhetoric of economic competitiveness. but that multiculturalism is bad for women. I would suggest. It is been suggested that mainstreaming might allow for the recognition of cross-cutting diversity in a manner that neither the equal treatment nor the positive discrimination models do. This is an important claim. see also Nussbaum 1999). For example. On the other hand. Given the nature of the integrationist model. but its weakness would be that it ceases to be about gender justice and instead focuses on individuals’ inclusion in the sphere of employment. the pursuit of “equality and diversity” from this framework is likely to rely upon “diversity experts. the pursuit of “equality and diversity” via the agenda-setting model of mainstreaming is likely to entail widespread consultation with a whole range of (frequently competing and conflicting) identity groups. What then would the transformative model of mainstreaming entail with relation to the pursuit of “equality and diversity”? I would suggest that it would require. given the diversity among women and men (Rees 2002. 54). to the third model of mainstreaming. Its strength would be that it might create new political opportunity structures that would empower the spokespersons of particular groups. She therefore argued that we must decide whether to prioritize cultural group rights or women’s equality (Okin 2000. The inevitable negotiations that will result around perceived “hierarchies of oppression” may well lead to fragmentation and the further erosion of a sense of public-spiritedness. and that limiting mainstreaming to gender equality is conceptually flawed. Susan Moller Okin famously argued that multiculturalism frequently entails allowing exemptions to universally applicable rules. but one that applies comfortably only. but its weakness would be that it reduces the incentive for people to speak across groups and thereby makes the pursuit of genuine diversity more difficult.Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 379 management and gender mainstreaming must necessarily proceed with caution. that greater attention . minimally. To conceive of diversity mainstreaming from a group rights perspective is to focus attention on cultural identity and to embrace a potentially essentialist affirmative politics of authenticity.” and to adopt the language of “diversity management” employed within the corporate sector. and in most cases these exemptions allow for greater inequality between women and men than does the universal rule.
for example. and persons into account. The ideal is one of democratic decision-making arising from deliberative procedures that are inclusive and rational (Miller 2000. says Melissa Williams. This is because a necessary. 162). Advocates of deliberative democracy—in a move akin to that made by advocates of mainstreaming— suggest that the idea of democracy revolves around the transformation. that democratic decision-making about the criteria for the filling of jobs and offices is a crucial condition of social justice (Young 1990. rather than to discover and aggregate. have taken all relevant evidence. and proposes. rectification of unequal circumstances “cannot be achieved by applying preconceived interpretations of the term equality itself. such that they cease to reproduce structural inequalities. the common good. Inclusive Deliberation and Diversity Mainstreaming At the heart of the mainstreaming process is a concern to determine. Enabling excluded groups to unsettle institutionally accepted conceptions of equality will require a parity of participation.5 Political theorists have recognized that democratic debate and decision-making are themselves necessary preconditions for impartial equality policies. rather than simply the aggregation. if not sufficient. A deliberative decision will. This argument can be broadened. scrutinize. Iris Young. in its place. 69). argues that the “ideology of merit” seeks to depoliticize the establishment of criteria and standards for allocating positions and awarding benefits. which have attempted to explore “discursive mechanisms for the transmission of public opinion to the state” (Dryzek 2000. 192–200). and transform the norms of equivalence currently used to evaluate competing equality claims. The basic impulse behind deliberative democracy is the notion that people will modify their perceptions of what society should do in the course of discussing this with others. such that democratic decision-making is viewed as a crucial condition of social justice in relation to the establishment of any criteria of evaluation. condition of equality is the enabling of excluded groups to unsettle and destabilize meanings and interpretations which the institutional culture has hitherto taken as universal and complete” (Mookherjee 2001. It therefore makes sense for theories of mainstreaming to engage with theories of deliberative democracy. The point of democratic participation is to manufacture. perspectives. which makes democratic inclusion central to both the meaning and realization of equality. and will not favor some .380 ◆ Squires be paid to democratic inclusion within the mainstreaming process than has currently been the case. As Monica Mookherjee rightly insists. 142). of preferences.
in which consensus presupposes communication.6 What deliberative democrats offer theorists of gender mainstreaming is a concern with the quality and form of engagement between citizens and participatory forums. the aesthetic-expressive (Coole 1996. like gender mainstreaming theorists. stressing in particular the importance of political equality and inclusivity. Sitton 2003. on principles of justice without abstracting from concrete needs and interests that are particular to some social group or other” (O’Neill 1997. including in particular the gender-blindness of Habermas’s work (Benhabib 1992). 126). then a greater understanding between different perspectives is more likely to be realized. and of unconstrained dialogue (Smith 2005. This recommendation needs to be tempered by the significant feminist critiques of communicative rationality (see Meehan 1995). His suggestion is that this will be possible only “if we can ground impartiality not in a hypothetical contract but rather in a conception of a reasonable yet open and unrestricted dialogue in the public domain” (O’Neill 1997. The emphasis that deliberative democrats place on inclusion and dialogue offers rich resources to counter the technocratic tendency in the integrationist model of mainstreaming. suggest that if the decision-making process is inclusive and dialogue unconstrained. This suggests that the commitment to impartiality be retained. an appeal to deliberative democracy would ideally be grounded in a non-Habermassian dialogical ethics. 39) Deliberative democrats. Squires 1998). and outcomes more widely accepted by participants are likely to be achieved. is “to conceive of how we might reflect critically. and his restrictive formulation of the public sphere (Everingham 1994. It is for this reason that it makes sense to think about mainstreaming with relation to deliberative democracy. Legitimacy here requires not only a lack of bias. his lack of attention to his third type of rationality. but that the process for grounding impartiality is transformed. The project. 56). Accepting the gravity of these critiques. but also inclusivity. 55). and impartially. a deliberative rendering . as articulated by Shane O’Neill.Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 381 over others on morally arbitrary grounds (Williams 2000). Williams argues that “one of the central aims of deliberative theory is to redeem the ideal of impartiality by defining political processes in a manner which avoids bias against valid social interests” (Williams 2000. Fraser 1996). In other words. Whereas the integrationist model emphasizes the importance of “gender expertise” and creates an elite body of professional gender experts. Similarly. though the language is different: both focus on the rule-formation process and aim at impartiality through inclusivity. not vice versa. we find in the deliberative democracy literature very similar concerns to those within the mainstreaming literature.
79). Moreover. Habermas suggests that legitimacy is based on “rationally motivated agreement” that is produced in “un-deformed public spheres” through actual processes of deliberation. then the reverse might also be true. and the strong. 55). This is particularly significant given that the move to consider equality and diversity rather than simply gender equality renders the process of mainstreaming infinitely more complex. gender mainstreaming theorists have much to gain from exploring the possible synergies between deliberative innovations and their own equality strategies. For this reason. they appear to embody not simply the dialogical conception of impartiality. if theories of deliberation have much to offer theories of mainstreaming. it affects all parts of the political system without intending to conquer it. but rather an “impulse-generating periphery that surrounds the political centre: in cultivating normative reasons. 39–55). the deliberative democracy literature remains highly abstract and “fails to engage with the ‘messy’ and more detailed task of institutional design” (Smith 2003. For example.” formal sites of institutionalized dialogue.” informal. 147). The general public sphere is not a mere “back room” of democratic politics. which must be open to influence from the weak public spheres turning influence into a “jurisgenerative communicative power” (Habermas 1996.382 ◆ Squires of transformative mainstreaming would emphasize the importance of dialogue with diverse social groups. and deliberative mapping are growing in number and significance (see Smith 2005. or weak public spheres where public opinion may be formed. located within clearly demarcated political practices (see Squires 2002. Deliberative innovations such as citizens’ juries. “arranged. Evidence suggests that these mechanisms do indeed facilitate the capacity to produce recommendations on complex public policy issues that are informed by a wide variety of experiences and viewpoints (Smith 2005. consensus conferences. rationally authored by the citizens to whom they are . Indeed. deliberative opinion polls. when one does look at the institutional arrangements proposed by deliberative democrats. 133–56. but rather a two-track model in which the monological and the dialogical have distinct roles.” In other words. he draws a clear distinction between “un-deformed. for a fuller discussion of this point). For although deliberative democrats have placed great emphasis on inclusion and deliberative decision-making. This implies that political decisions in complex and pluralistic societies can be rational and hence legitimate in a deliberative democratic sense—that is. they have had relatively little to say about the practical institutional arrangements that might facilitate such inclusive deliberation: as Graham Smith rightly notes.
This would generate a model of mainstreaming that is deliberative. Citizen initiatives and referendums allow citizens to vote directly on policy issues (2003. Smith suggests that there is no single “best” design. and that it would allow for deliberations within civil society to be transmitted to the formal arena of political decision-making without becoming rhetorically entrapped. I would suggest. and instrumental action and politics on the other. further. This vision of mainstreaming thereby shifts our focus away from the substantive theorization of equality and toward a consideration of procedural norms. However. citizens’ forums. and that the potential of integrating these deliberative transmission mechanisms into a transformative model of mainstreaming be explored. 80). Smith maps out three models for the transmission of public opinion into decision-making: mediation. rather than bureaucratic or consultative. The strengths of this potential model are that it would be sensitive to diverse citizen perspectives without reifying group identities. procedural concerns cannot supplant substantive concerns. and citizens’ juries (in which a selection of citizens are asked to come to a collective decision on a specified issue after a period of deliberation) (2003. that these mechanisms should be considered with relation to mainstreaming policies. but could be combined. that aims primarily to denaturalize and thereby politicize policy norms. Political decisions must be both open to input from an informal. there is surprisingly little attention as to how the deliberations from within civil society are to be transmitted to the more formal arena of political decision-making. However. 86–87).Is Mainstreaming Transformative? ◆ 383 addressed—if institutionalized decision-making procedures follow two tracks. and citizen initiatives and referendums (Smith 2003. Mediation brings together different parties who are in dispute and aims to achieve resolution of conflict such that all parties involved are satisfied and in agreement as to the way forward (Smith 2003. for substantial economic equality may well be necessary for us to be political equals. This two-track model of deliberative democracy distinguishes between communication oriented toward mutual understanding on the one hand. while the deliberative democracy literature has focused on the importance of active civil society and the reinvigoration of the public sphere. This demands that debates . rather than to pursue neutral policy-making or to recognize marginalized voices. Citizens’ forums include deliberative opinion polls (in which a cross-section of the population is asked to discuss an issue of public concern and the individual views are recorded). 93). and that the models need not be thought of in isolation. In one of the rare exceptions. 81). vibrant public sphere (contexts of discovery) and appropriately structured to support the rationality of the relevant types of discourses and to ensure implementation (contexts of justification).
These three conceptions of mainstreaming entail three different understandings as to how mainstreaming should proceed: via bureaucratic policy tools. such as citizens’ forums. respectively. via consultation with women’s organizations. often at the expense of redistributive concerns. which operates within a marketized redistributive paradigm. Here. women’s perspectives.384 ◆ Squires about equality be iterative processes. the potential of mainstreaming is constrained by its essentialism and fragmentation. Jo Shaw. Alison Woodward. Finally. When conceptualized as a means of pursuing women’s perspectives via consultation with women’s organizations. and it may be defended in terms of correcting for past unequal . This in turn suggests that there may indeed be principled grounds for retaining a place for equal opportunities and positive action within our transformative model of mainstreaming. I have suggested that deliberative mechanisms. Here. Conclusion I have suggested that strategies of inclusion. for while fair procedures are needed to define what substantial equality entails. The justification of positive action does not require the recognition of difference. mainstreaming becomes delimited by an identity politics approach that pursues equality via the recognition of authentic voices. and displacement each generate a distinctive conception of mainstreaming. some form of substantial equality may be required to secure fair procedures. I have argued that mainstreaming is best understood as a transformative strategy when it is conceptualized as a means of pursuing complex equality via inclusive deliberation. what is being mainstreamed are equal opportunities. 2. NOTES 1. or complex equality (which recognizes diversity). When conceptualized as a means of pursuing equal opportunities via bureaucratic policy tools. mainstreaming becomes entrapped within a liberal egalitarian approach to equality. could be useful in augmenting this transformative model of mainstreaming. Thanks to Sylvia Walby. There are limitations to the ways in which mainstreaming has been conceived and implemented to date. or via inclusive deliberation. but the potential for developing this approach to equality in the context of diversity (rather than simply gender) and in the light of deliberative democracy (rather than technocratic modernization) remains strong. and two anonymous references for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. reversal. the potential of mainstreaming is constrained by its individualism and elitism. Jane Mansbridge.
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