Working for Change: Projectified Politics and Gender Equality in Swedish Regional Development
2016 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
The aim of this article is to show how the organisational form “the project” functions as a governmental technology that disrupts the ongoing work for gender equality in Swedish regional development. Rather than assuming that projects are neutral forms for organizing public sector practices, I argue that they are imbued with politics and power in the first place and therefore should be studied critically. In particular, I suggest that as the project form intersects with the practice of gender equality work it will function as a lens that influences the trajectories of this work. Inspired be feminist theories of difference I therefore articulate a set of optical metaphors, namely reflection, refraction and diffraction, in order to make this intersection more visible. By mobilizing these metaphors and by drawing on data generated during empirical fieldwork in five Swedish regions the critical potential of this approach is illustrated. In terms of reflection, I mean to designate aspects common to most gender equality work, regardless of organizational form. Here, this is demonstrated by showing how activists and civil servants feel that they are subjected to various forms of resistance from established structures. As for refractions, I use the concept to exemplify how the project form produces new directions in the way gender equality work is carried out. For instance, securing new funding and to survive economically becomes central concerns under projectified politics. Finally, I also illustrate the emergence of hybrid forms, what is here called diffraction effects, as gender equality work passes through the governmental technology of “the project”. In our case this is exemplified by how private consultants fill central roles in gender equality work. I conclude that taken together the illustrations calls for a recognition of the project form as political as well as for more detailed research regarding its expressions.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Diffraction, Feminism, Governmentality, New Public Management
Research subject Political Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-47711OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-47711DiVA: diva2:1068195
Swedish Political Science Association Annual Meeting 2016. Politics and Gender Workshop.