Capturing Dynamics of Changing Gender Inequality: Regimes, Institutions and Indices

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Andrea SCHAEFER, SOCIUM, Germany
The explanatory role of gender has been challenged theoretically by the question of whether macro or meso frameworks are more appropriate to capture structure and change, but more recently also by empirical evidence that the intersection of class and gender in shaping social inequalities has become more pronounced. Hence, there is a need of better theorizing class – gender relations in welfare and gender regime approaches alike. We argue that understanding intersectionality and its impact on inequalities requires a clearer theoretical framing of empirical research and adaptations of theoretical frames on the basis of insights gained from empirical research. We propose that neo-institutionalist approaches are better equipped than macro level approaches as they can grasp both long-term and short-term changes at the meso level of policies, organizations and collective actors. Moreover, such an approach can identify changes in inequalities empirically and link these to micro level data. However, findings from neo-institutionalist research on welfare and gender regimes generate a puzzling picture, indicating different directions of changes in inequalities for different sets of policies and outcomes by sub-groups, be it in the fields of employment, family policies, taxation or political representation. These contradictions in outcomes for inequalities also make it difficult to identify a single logic and clear impact of change within and across countries or regions. Attempts to provide a more coherent account at least on the descriptive level include indices such as the GEM or the GEI. Other approaches try to discern different types of institutional change in order to understand how incremental change can nevertheless be transformative and thus link up to regime typologies. We will engage in discussing the scope of these attempts for understanding current dynamics of gender inequality and their potential contribution for improving theorization of gender and class on the meso and macro level.