The changing nature of European equality regimes: explaining convergence and variation.
Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy
This paper maps the changing nature of European equality regimes in order to establish the extent of variation or convergence across Europe and to evaluate the role of transnational policy paradigms and state-level institutions in shaping the emerging European equality regimes. We identify two significant tendencies in respect to European equality institutional regimes. First, a growing complexity in the institutional arrangements designed to address inequalities, with pre-2000 institutional arrangements increasingly augmented by newer equality institutions that adopt a judicialized approach to dealing with inequalities. Second, a Europe-wide tendency to widen the scope of equality policy thinking from a very small number of privileged inequality grounds (most frequently gender and ethnicity) to a much wider range of inequalities to be addressed by state policies. The overall impact of these two changes has been to create equality regimes characterized by a wide variety of forms and levels of protection for the different inequalities. This suggests that while a transnational policy paradigm has framed the evolving nature of equality regimes across Europe, the implementation of this paradigm is moulded by the power dynamics embedded in national and local equality institutions, creating a fragmented and complex patchwork of equality regimes that defy easy regional classification and complicate overly generalized narratives about the influence of global policy paradigms.