Mainstreaming and Neoliberalism: A Contested Relationship


Bacchi, Carol, and Joan Eveline. 2003. “Mainstreaming and Neoliberalism: A Contested Relationship.” Policy and Society 22 (2): 98–118.

Authors: Carol Bacchi, Joan Eveline


The paper offers a comparative analysis of dominant mainstreaming and gender analysis frameworks to consider the nature of the relationship between these equality initiatives and neoliberalism. We challenge the portrayal of mainstreaming as necessarily resistant to neoliberalism, and show how dominant forms of mainstreaming illustrate characteristics congruent with neoliberal premises and policy agendas. Our particular concern is the extent to which some forms of mainstreaming and gender analysis are unable to put in question neoliberal premises because of their ex post character. For this reason we describe the relationship as contested. Our goal is to identify ways to strengthen the potential of mainstreaming initiatives to step outside of and critique neoliberalism's strategic norms. To advance this objective we offer some first steps towards producing gender analysis as an ex ante intervention. Significantly, we suggest that effective implementation requires a focus on policy's creative (active) role in constructing “problems” and in shaping gender relations.

Topics: Gender Mainstreaming, Globalization, Privatization

Year: 2003

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