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Institutionalising equalities? Exploring the engagement of equalities organisations in the Welsh Third Sector-Government partnership

Sanders, Amy 2022. Institutionalising equalities? Exploring the engagement of equalities organisations in the Welsh Third Sector-Government partnership. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This study explores how a sub-state partnership between government and the third sector promotes and/or frustrates the advancement of equalities. It uses the lens of feminist institutionalism with reference to equalities theory and relevant civil society literatures. Policy actors’ accounts are utilised to examine the case study which is the Welsh third sector-government partnership. This is an innovation associated with devolution and set out in legislation. It is designed to foster inclusive governance by providing a nexus for civil society to influence public policy. It consists of the Third Sector Partnership Council and Ministerial Meetings, through which representatives of the twenty-five third sector thematic networks discuss policy with Welsh Government ministers. This study finds both strengths and shortcomings associated with the Partnership. The analysis reveals divergent institutional discourses about representation, which are reflected in the complex multi-layered network structures and impact how the equalities third sector participates. Moreover, the findings show equalities organisations use informal action repertoires alongside formal institutional mechanisms to promote substantive representation. This offers a broader understanding of policy-influencing tools than traditionally seen in equalities mainstreaming accounts. Equalities organisations are found to occupy multiple positions on the insider-outsider spectrum which is enabled by their partnership role. Institutional structures and informal discourses simultaneously shape equality organisations’ collaboration and competition, which is shown to restrict the advancement of intersectionality. The analysis also reveals a hierarchy between equalities strands where certain categories are less advantaged. Ongoing challenges identified include failings in the scrutiny of the Partnership which inhibits institutional learning and institutional change. The original contribution of this study lies in providing new empirical insights and transferable lessons from this case study of a government-third sector partnership at the often-neglected meso-level of governance, informed by a synthesis of feminist institutionalism with cognate literatures.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 March 2022
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 01:36

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