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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Shona Hunter and Elaine Swan

The paper draws out the key conceptual, methodological and substantive issues raised in the papers around the politics of equalities.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper draws out the key conceptual, methodological and substantive issues raised in the papers around the politics of equalities.

Design/methodology/approach

Rather than reviewing and summarising each paper in turn this introductory article synthesises the key themes from papers to develop an overview of the key issues raised in the edited collection.

Findings

The papers trouble traditional dichotomies in equalities studies, suggesting complex and fluid relationships between states, activists and professionals. They also identify some key elements of current equalities work such as equalities framing, diversity interpretation and the negotiation of ambiguity produced through the seesaw of hope/failure characterising this work.

Research limitations/implications

The collection highlights the continuing dearth of work around certain equalities strands, in particular, around sexualities and generation. It also suggests avenues for further work developing postcolonial analysis of equalities work in organisations.

Originality/value

The collection is unique in that it draws together current work crossing diverse national and sectoral contexts and from a range of equalities strands.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Shona Hunter and Elaine Swan

The paper has two purposes: to introduce a new perspective on power and resistance in equalities work; and to trouble either or theorisations of success and failure in…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper has two purposes: to introduce a new perspective on power and resistance in equalities work; and to trouble either or theorisations of success and failure in this work. Instead it offers a new means of exploring micro‐practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper applies/develops an “actor network theory” (ANT) analysis to a single case study of Iopia, a Black woman equalities practitioner working in a prison education context. It uses this to explore the ways in which Iopia interacts with a variety of human and non‐human objects to challenge racism in this context.

Findings

Iopia, from an initial position of marginality (as a Black woman experiencing racism) is able to establish herself (by virtue of this same identity as a Black woman combating racism) as central to a “new” network for equality and diversity. This new network both challenges and sustains narrow exclusionary definitions of diversity. Thus, Iopia's case provides an example of the contradictions, and paradox, experienced by those working for equality and diversity.

Research limitations/implications

In the future, this type of feminist ANT analysis could be more fully developed and integrated with critical race and other critical cultural theories as these relate to equalities work.

Practical implications

The approach, and, in particular, the notion of translation, can be used by practitioners in thinking through the ways in which they can use material objects to draw in multiple “others” into their own networks.

Originality/value

The article is one of the first to explore equalities workers via the lens of ANT. It is unique in its analysis of the material objects constituting both diversity workers and diversity work and thus its analysis of diversity workers and their work as part of a complex set of social and “material” relations.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Shona Hunter and Elaine Swan

To explore the experience of a key member of the UK equalities policy‐making elite, interrogating her shift from activist to top‐ranking equalities professional. To focus…

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the experience of a key member of the UK equalities policy‐making elite, interrogating her shift from activist to top‐ranking equalities professional. To focus attention on the under‐explored area of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender equalities work.

Design/methodology/approach

The interview is prefaced with a critical commentary on current UK equalities policy, contextualising the interview discussion, which links personal and collective histories and provides a comparison of equalities work over time.

Findings

Angela Mason, while top‐ranking civil servant, continues to claim the label activist. Like a variety of other equalities workers she uses multiple tactics to appeal to different constituents at different times and in different contexts.

Originality/value

This is an interview with one of the key protagonists in the development of UK equalities policies over the last 30 years. It is unique in its focus on the current overhaul of UK equalities policy from an “insider” and in its timing at the interim point of this reorganisation (October 2006).

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2017

Rachael Dobson

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a methodology for critical welfare practice research, “recollection-as-method”, and to use this to demonstrate the social…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce a methodology for critical welfare practice research, “recollection-as-method”, and to use this to demonstrate the social relations of social welfare institutions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper analyses a series of personal recollections from the author’s experiences of academic life and welfare work to establish a methodology for critical welfare practice research. This uses concepts memory, dirty work, shame and complicity, and is grounded in critical feminist and critical race work, and psychosocial and socio-cultural approaches to governance.

Findings

The paper establishes a methodology for critical welfare practice research by demonstrating the significance of using an ontologically driven approach to governance, to achieve a realistic and complex understanding of statutory welfare work.

Research limitations/implications

Recollections are post hoc narrations, written in the present day. The ethics and robustness of this approach are deliberated in the paper.

Practical implications

The focus of the paper is on statutory welfare practice that involves the assessment and regulation of homeless people. Principles and arguments developed in this paper contribute to reflective and reflexive debates across “front-line” social welfare practice fields in and beyond homelessness. Examples include assessment of social groups such as unemployed people, refugees and asylum seekers. Arguments also have application for criminal justice settings such as for prison work.

Social implications

This foregrounds practitioner ambivalence and resistance in order to theorise the social relations of social welfare institutions.

Originality/value

The recollection-as-method approach provides a methodology for critical practice research by demonstrating an alternative way to understand the realities of welfare work. It argues that understanding how resistance and complicity operate in less conscious and more structural ways is important for understanding the social relations of social welfare institutions and the role of good/bad feeling for these processes. This is important for understanding interventions required for anti-oppressive social change across the social worlds of policy-practice life.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Sally Shaw

The purpose of this research is to investigate equality policy development through an examination of The Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport and consider implications…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to investigate equality policy development through an examination of The Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport and consider implications for practitioners and research‐based alternatives.

Design/methodology/approach

A textual analysis of The Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport.

Findings

The Equality Standard represents a shift from historic “one suit fits all” versions of equality policy creation in sports organisations. It is limited, however, by a reliance on formalised audit measures, limited encouragement of organisational involvement in creating equality policies, a reluctance to acknowledge powerful, taken‐for‐granted assumptions about equality, and an inability to encourage organisations to reflect on their history and culture.

Research limitations/implications

Calls for future research into the further critique of audit‐based approaches to equality implementation and stronger links between academic research and practitioner experience.

Practical implications

To encourage individuals to critically examine equality within sports organisations with a view to adopting a more reflective framework of equality in which to address organisational processes.

Originality/value

This research contributes an analysis of recent equality policy development in UK sport. It uses textual analysis to examine policy in order to offer alternative avenues for policy development.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Colin Lindsay, Anne Munro and Sarah Wise

This paper seeks to analyse trade unions’ approaches to equal opportunities in Scotland, focusing on issues of: recruitment of membership from different groups; promoting…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to analyse trade unions’ approaches to equal opportunities in Scotland, focusing on issues of: recruitment of membership from different groups; promoting diversity in post‐holding; and the role of “key equalities issues” in collective bargaining.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on in‐depth interviews with equalities officers of 26 unions in Scotland. The analysis takes as its starting point the three models of equality policies identified by Rees: the “sameness”, “difference” and “transformation” models.

Findings

The paper argues that, although some equalities officers demonstrated a thorough understanding of the issues, union approaches to equalities in practice reflect the “sameness”, and to some extent “difference”, models: attacking direct discrimination and insisting that members should be treated the same, establishing some limited mechanisms to reflect on the different needs of groups, but being less able to tackle the underlying structural causes of inequality. It is suggested that unions need to develop a more sophisticated analysis of equal opportunities which fully reflects the differences between the experiences of groups of workers and which challenges the fundamental, structural inequalities within (and therefore seeks to transform) organisations and labour markets. A key element of this agenda must be the mainstreaming of equal opportunities within collective bargaining.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is required on how unions are beginning to deal with the issues raised in the paper. The paper is also limited to the views of individual equalities officers – further research on local practice is required.

Practical implications

The findings will be of interest to organisations engaged in equalities work and unions seeking to develop policy and practice in this area.

Originality/value

The paper will add to the literature on unions’ approaches to equalities. It applies the Rees model to extensive new data, and is the first major piece of research to address these issues within the Scottish policy context.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Rosemary Crawley

In this article, I seek to show how invocations of political correctness still work in nuanced ways to close down debates and trivialise issues, and effectively slow down…

Abstract

Purpose

In this article, I seek to show how invocations of political correctness still work in nuanced ways to close down debates and trivialise issues, and effectively slow down progress towards achieving an anti‐racist society. I also begin to identify the typologies of the myriad ways in which it presents.

Design/methodology/approach

It is an autobiographical account, with evidence gleaned from personal experiences as an equalities trainer and from discussions arising as part of supporting and mentoring other trainers.

Findings

Political correctness has not gone away: it is still invoked by politicians, the media and individuals within organisations to attack anti‐racism and anti‐racist learning.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited by its autobiographical and inevitably subjective nature. However, the standpoints of resistance that I have chosen to discuss are those that have arisen frequently and repeatedly and from across a range of public sector and quasi‐public sector organisations.

Practical implications

Despite its limitations, the article clearly demonstrates that political correctness remains an important topic for academic and practitioner debate, and it also identifies the need for further work in developing training to combat its destructiveness.

Originality/value

An original and firsthand account of anti‐racist training from the front line is provided. Its value lies in its experiential origins and its potential as a basis for further work.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Samantha Wehbi and Yahya El‐Lahib

Through a reflection on a recent voting rights campaign for people with disabilities in Lebanon, the article aims to contribute to a body of literature that seeks to…

Abstract

Purpose

Through a reflection on a recent voting rights campaign for people with disabilities in Lebanon, the article aims to contribute to a body of literature that seeks to challenge the marginalisation of people with disabilities; and aims to share our reflections with others interested in deeper thinking on the global impacts on their day‐to‐day work.

Design/methodology/approach

The article begins with a background discussion of the Lebanese context and the voting rights campaign, followed by an analysis of rights‐based work through a discussion of key issues faced by community activists.

Findings

The analysis highlights the impact of global forces on local grassroots work through the following issues: formalisation of relationships between national government organisations (NGOs); professionalisation within NGOs; contentious dealings with the state; the meanings and uses of diversity and international political relations.

Originality/value

There is a dearth of published studies on the disability‐rights movement in the Arab region; more specifically, the article provides a critical reflection on the changes facing the movement in Lebanon, where there are no published studies on the topic. This article would be of value to activists in other parts of the world interested in the changes facing activism on disability rights or other issues.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Deborah Jones

This paper theorises how equal employment opportunities (EEO) practitioners (EPs) operate as change agents within organisations.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper theorises how equal employment opportunities (EEO) practitioners (EPs) operate as change agents within organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

It takes a feminist and post‐structuralist perspective, in which EPs are seen as agents of positive social change, contesting existing discourses, but are also themselves subject to being changed by their engagement in those same discursive formations. The key example used is the way that EPs handle tensions between “business” and “social justice” agendas. A case study of EPs in New Zealand government organisations provides the empirical base.

Findings

It argues that agency is both produced and constrained by the discursive context of agents in specific situations. The case study showed EPs operating in an environment where the social justice discourse that had been central to introducing the concepts of EEO to the Public Service in the 1980s was in conflict with an increasingly powerful business agenda. This situation produced new “texts” and therefore new possibilities of agency. EPs struggled to define means and ends, and to handle the conflicts in ways that were coherent with their own concepts of ethics and politics. It argues that practitioners can act more effectively if they can find ways to reflect on their discursive locations. Research that draws out the contradictions in our positions, identities and language helps us do this.

Research limitations/implications

The feminist post‐structuralist theoretical frame used in theorising this case can be used in any other empirical situations to understand how discursive practices operate to enable or constrain the work of change agents.Practical implications – It sets out to show how feminist and post‐structuralist approaches can be of practical value in supporting change agents by providing a framework for reflecting on their social and organisational context.

Originality/value

It combines a critical de‐naturalising stance, typical of writing in critical management studies, with the more action‐oriented agenda of most writing on equal opportunities.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 3 July 2007

Anna Wahl and Pia Höök

The article is based on a study of the changes in the methods used in working with gender equality issues in management in Sweden from the early 1990s until the early 2000s.

Abstract

Purpose

The article is based on a study of the changes in the methods used in working with gender equality issues in management in Sweden from the early 1990s until the early 2000s.

Design/methodology/approach

The material consists of interviews with 20 people who work either as employees in organisations or as business owners/consultants in the field of increasing the numbers of women at executive levels. In the article, they are referred to as “equality professionals”.

Findings

The changes that have taken place may be described in two ways – partly changes in how the work is pursued within organisations, and partly through the work having moved to other arenas. When summarising the material, four overriding trends can be identified that characterise the changes in gender equality work: (1) a more radical understanding of gender equality among groups positive to change; (2) a professionalisation of gender equality work; (3) a shift from organisational projects to working with individuals; (4) a shift from organisational projects to influencing organisations from other public arenas.Research limitations/implications – Its focus on Sweden as well as its focus on a specific, quite small (20) group of people.

Practical implications

Useful and interesting for those working with gender equality, especially as Sweden is sometimes put forward as “the world's most gender equal country”.

Originality/value

The article has value because it shows the Swedish context as well as the longitudinal approach, i.e. that the study focuses on a 10‐year period (1993‐2002) and includes comparative material.

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

Keywords

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