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Revisiting Jewson and Mason: The Politics of Gender Equality in UK Local Government in a Cold Climate

Conley, Hazel; Page, Margaret


Hazel Conley
Professor in Human Resource Management

Margaret Page


© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd This paper revisits Jewson and Mason's seminal theoretical framework on liberal and radical approaches to equal opportunity policy and practice by applying it to our research on the implementation of the Gender Equality Duty in UK local government. Conducted at the height of Thatcherism, Jewson and Mason's research offers a useful platform for assessing equality initiatives in local government during periods of political hostility to equality underpinned by cuts to public services, which in more recent time is ascribed to austerity. Drawing on qualitative research in five case study local authorities, this paper assesses strategies for protecting and promoting gender equality practices and policies in the face of change within public services. We analyse three types of politics of equality (political philosophy, organizational politics and party politics) that feature in Jewson and Mason's analysis. In line with recent feminist research, our data indicate that equality specialists continue to use both liberal and radical discourses in instrumental ways to promote equality and resist change as described by Jewson and Mason, but these were more clearly framed within business case arguments influenced by the modernization agenda of the 1990s. Our data indicate that even business case arguments have been unable to protect equality initiatives from the 2010 coalition government's austerity and cuts agenda.


Conley, H., & Page, M. (2017). Revisiting Jewson and Mason: The Politics of Gender Equality in UK Local Government in a Cold Climate. Gender, Work and Organization, 24(1), 7-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 4, 2016
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2016
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Deposit Date Feb 5, 2016
Journal Gender, Work and Organization
Print ISSN 0968-6673
Electronic ISSN 1468-0432
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 1
Pages 7-19
Keywords gender equality duty, local government
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Conley, H. and Page, M. (2017) Revisiting Jewson and Mason: The politics of gender equality in UK local government in a cold climate. Gender, Work and Organization, 24 (1). pp. 7-19, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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