Handbook on Gender and Social Policy
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Handbook on Gender and Social Policy

Edited by Sheila Shaver

Providing a state of the art overview, this comprehensive Handbook is an essential introduction to the subject of Gender and Social Policy. Bringing together original contributions and research from leading researchers it covers the theoretical perspectives of the field, the central policy terrain of gender inequalities of income, employment and care, and family policy. Examining gender and social policy at both the regional and national level, the Handbook is an excellent resource for advanced students and scholars of sociology, political science, women’s studies, policy studies as well as practitioners seeking to understand how gender shapes the contours of social policy and politics.
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Chapter 3: Intersectionality, gender and social policy

Fiona Williams

Abstract

This chapter is about intersectionality as a way of thinking about the dynamics of multiple social relations of power of which gender is a part, and its relevance to social policy. Intersectionality is a method of analysis which recognizes that our experiences of power and inequality are constituted not simply by gender, or gender and class, but by the places we occupy on the many salient and changing axes of power that exist in any given time and place. It thus understands the categories that we occupy as fluid and changing. The chapter examines the emergence of a concept of intersectionality from black feminist thought and activism in the 1980s to its revival and re-examination after the turn of the century to the present. It engages with the development of the concept over time in three ways: first, as theory and method, that is, as a heuristic device for framing the social relations of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability and other categories of structured inequality. Here the chapter explores the analytical framework of the shifting interconnections of Family, Nation and Work. Second, it demonstrates how an intersectional method became important for analysis of social policy, illustrating this with reference to research on the development of equalities policies and on gender, migration and care work. Third, in the context of global crises of finance/austerity, care, migration and the environment, it looks at intersectionality as political strategy.

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