Equality-Oriented Policies: A New Concept in Public Policy?
21 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2013 Last revised: 12 Mar 2013
Date Written: February 18, 2013
Containing inequality is a core task for contemporary governments. A multitude of individual policies are targeted to this goal. They range from the redistributive arrangements that we find in tax schemes and welfare provisions, to the increasingly wide-spread norms which are directed against various kinds of discrimination; from the public provision of core services like education or health care on an equal basis, to the insertion of social clauses in public procurement agreements; from efforts to mainstream administrative decision-taking with regard to certain inequalities, to measures of affirmative action for particularly disadvantaged groups; and from public counselling services to awareness campaigns, and to many other “equality-oriented policies” (EOPs), as I will term them here.
Some of these policies have traditionally occupied a central spot in day-to-day political battles. Most EOPs have received considerable academic attention. But, surprisingly, they are rarely viewed in a comprehensive perspective. Instead, they are pursued by separate institutional actors and discussed in academic discourses which are largely fragmented. And while the institutional separation may be desirable and indeed necessary to deal with the complexity of present-day governance, neither can be said about the fragmentation of the related academic discourses. Quite to the contrary, it would seem that this fragmentation might impact negatively on the choice and design of individual policies, and that, moreover, there is no reason why it could not be overcome.
The present article sets out to gauge the gains of a comprehensive perspective as it is entailed in the concept of EOPs. In the following, I will first discuss the delineation of this concept (sub B). In a second step, I will develop a basic systematization of EOPs (sub C.), and, thirdly, indicate ways in which this concept could be applied to better understand and inform the use of these policies in practice (D.).
Keywords: Equality, Antidiscrimination Policy, Antidiscrimination Law, (Comparative) Social Policy, (Comparative) Public Policy, (Comparative) Law
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