Measuring Feminist Policy Authority: A Mixed-Methods Comparative Analysis of Feminist Policies After Adoption
Edwards, Renee Dawn
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This doctoral research study presents a new way to measure, score, and scale feminist policies through their process phases and outcome. It maps the complexity of the policy process and outcome by selecting literature-based variables, operationalizing them, and systematically tracing them through four policy cases in a mixed-methods multi-case comparative analysis to assess the dependent variable—the policy’s impact on society. In addition, it identifies ‘drivers’—the internal and external elements of the selected variables that ‘drive,’ or impact, the variables in creating policy authority (or lack of authority). The guiding research question behind this study was: How much societal change has occurred to increase gender equality as a result of feminist policy? This research question has two primary sub-questions which further guided the research design and analysis: 1) How authoritative are feminist policies in the social and political reality in which they exist? and 2) What makes the policy more authoritative or less authoritative in this reality? The analytical framework in this study uses the large body of feminist policy literature as well as primary sources to systematically analyze and map the complex post-adoption processes and outcomes of four national-level feminist policies in two subsectors of feminist policy (violence against women and equal employment opportunity) in two Western post-industrial democracies—the United States and Sweden. For this study, policy cases were viewed as configurations, or combinations of characteristics, and were specifically selected to bring out and test success indicators revealed by literature. By contributing a system for measuring, scoring, and scaling policies ‘in practice’—in the political and social realities in which they exist—systematic analysis can ultimately determine whether these policies matter, and how/why they matter.
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