Feminist change in a patriarchal organisation: the experience of women's initiatives in local government and implications for feminist perspectives on state institutions

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Over the last decade the issue of equal opportunities for women has been placed on the agenda of an ever increasing number of British local authorities. More than half of all authorities have now devised policies which fall within the broad field of equal opportunities, whilst a smaller proportion of these have chosen to set up specific structures such as Women's Committees and Equal Opportunities Communities to address equalities issues on a general an on-going basis (Halford 1989a). To varying degrees all these local councils have recognized the implicitly gendered nature of existing policies and practice and appear to have made a commitment to introducing new policies and practices which promote positive alternatives for women .This explicit intervention by certain local governments into the field of gender politics raises some important questions. Most commonly these concern the extent to which feminist social change can be brought about via the institutions of the state. More specifically, how far can Women's Committees and similar initiatives actually bring about changes in the policies and practices of local government? The foundation for these concerns lies with a tradition of feminist analysis which locks state institutions into a broader analysis of gender inequality, and emphasizes the way in which state actions reflect and reinforce the dominance of men and the oppression of women. How then are we to interpret a situation where these very institutions, defined as patriarchal, are apparently pursuing feminist policies?
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationGender and Bureaucracy
EditorsMike Savage, Anne Witz
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISBN (Print)9780631185284
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1993

Publication series

NameSociological Review Monographs

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