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Intersectionality and Public Policy: Some Lessons from Existing Models

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In comparison to research practices, intersectionality is an underdeveloped concept within policy discourse and application. Because of the complexity and relative newness of this approach, policy analysis grounded within an intersectionality framework remains largely undertheorized, and methods for integrating intersectionality into policy processes are in the nascent stages. This article (1) defines intersectionality and demonstrates the need for this approach in public policy, (2) outlines challenges in applying intersectionality to policy making, and (3) describes and evaluates three innovative approaches to applying intersectionality to policy development and analysis.
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Intersectionality and Public Policy: Some Lessons from Existing Models
Author(s): Olena Hankivsky and Renee Cormier
Source:
Political Research Quarterly,
Vol. 64, No. 1 (MARCH 2011), pp. 217-229
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Intersectìonality
and Public
Policy:
Some Lessons from
Existing
Models
Political Research
Quarterly
64(1)217-229
©2011
University
of Utah
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and
permission:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI:
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http://prq.sagepub.com
(S)SAGE
Olena
Hankivsky1
and Renee
Cormier1
Abstract
In
comparison
to research
practices, intersectionality
is an
underdeveloped concept
within
policy
discourse and
application.
Because of the
complexity
and relative newness
of this
approach, policy
analysis grounded
within
an
intersectionality
framework remains
largely
undertheorized,
and methods for
integrating
intersectionality
into
policy
processes
are
in
the
nascent
stages.
This
article
(I)
defines
¡ntersectionality
and
demonstrates the need
for this
approach
in
public policy,
(2)
outlines
challenges
in
applying intersectionality
to
policy making,
and
(3)
describes and
evaluates three
innovative
approaches
to
applying intersectionality
to
policy
development
and
analysis.
Keywords
intersectionality, public policy,
inequities,
inequalities,
multiStrand
approach
As is now
well
established,
intersectionality
has
become
a
primary
analytic
tool
for
theorizing identity
and
oppres-
sion
(Nash
2008).
Despite
ongoing
methodological
chal-
lenges,
this
perspective
is
recognized
as an
important
research
paradigm
(Hancock
2007),
and
increasingly
the
theoretical
framework
of
intersectionality
is
being
applied
to
research
practices
across a
variety
of
disciplines.
In
comparison,
less
attention
has been
paid
to
applying
inter-
sectionality
to
public
policy (Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007;
Manuel
2006;
Patel
2001
;
Wilkinson
2003).
Because of the
complexity
and
relative
newness of
this
approach,
"the
development
of an
intersectionality
policy
analysis
is
still
undertheorized"
(Urbanek
2009,
3),
and
methods for
integrating
intersectionality
into
policy
development,
implementation,
and
evaluation
are
in
their
very
early
stages
of
development.
The
purpose
of
this
article is to
(1)
define
intersec-
tionality
and
demonstrate
the need
for
an
intersectional-
ity
approach
in
public
policy, (2)
outline
the
challenges
in
applying
an
intersectionality
approach
to
policy
making,
and
(3)
describe and
evaluate
three
innovative
approaches
to
applying
intersectionality
to
policy
development
and
analysis.
The
article
fills
an
important
void for
policy
scholars
and
decision
makers
who
have
recognized
the
importance
of
an
intersectionality
perspective
but
who are
grappling
with
fully
understanding
its
transformational
promise
and
are
seeking
more
concrete
methods of
incor-
porating
this
critical
approach
into
policy
development,
implementation,
and
evaluation.
This
discussion
there-
fore
provides
a
foundation
and
illustrative
examples
for
ongoing
dialogue
and
future work
for
those who seek to
bring
an
effective
interpretive
framework of
intersection-
ality
to
policy
analysis
across a
variety
of
sectors.
The
Public
Policy
Promises
(and
Challenges)
of
Intersectionality
The
goal
of
intersectionality
policy analysis
is to
iden-
tify
and
address
"the
way specific
acts and
policies
address the
inequalities
experienced
by
various social
groups" (Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
9),
taking
into
account that
social
identities such
as
race,
class,
gen-
der,
ability,
geography,
and
age
interact
to form
unique
meanings
and
complex
experiences
within
and
between
groups
in
society.
These
are
further
affected
by
multiple
systems
of
power
and
oppression
that
Collins
(1990)
refers to
as
"the matrix
of
domination"
and that
change
over
time
and
place
and in
different
institutional
domains.
The
need to
focus on
numerous
differences and
complex
realities
using
a
multilevel
analysis
to
uncover
exclusions
and
vulnerabilities can
be
considered both a
strength
and
'Simon
Fraser
University
Vancouver-Harbour
Centre
Campus,
Vancouver,
Canada
Corresponding
Author:
Olena
Hankivsky,
Simon
Fraser
University
Vancouver-Harbour
Centre
Campus,
515 West
Hastings
Street,
Suite
3271,
Vancouver,
V6B
5K3,
Canada
Email:
oah@sfu.ca
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2 1 8 Political
Research
Quarterly 64(1)
a
challenge
for those
seeking
to work
within an
intersec-
tionality paradigm.
In
the
specific
context of
public policy,
this
perspective
reveals the limitations and
exclusionary
nature of
tradi-
tional
methods
of
creating policy.
To
begin,
intersec-
tionality recognizes
that
to address
complex
inequities,
a
one-size-fits-all
approach
does not
work
(Parken
and
Young
2007;
Canadian Research
Institute for the Advancement
of Women
[CRIAW]
2006;
Hankivsky
2005).
In
this
way,
it shares similarities
with
other
critical frames
that have
revealed
that
policy
is not neutral as
it
is
not
experienced
in
the same
way
by
all
populations
and
that
important
dif-
ferences
and concomitant
needs have to
be taken
into
account
when
developing,
implementing,
and evaluat-
ing public
policy.
However,
intersectionality
differs from
approaches
designed
to
accommodate difference
by
tar-
geting
single
identity
markers such as
gender,
immigrant
status,
and
Aboriginal
status
(Hicks
2003, 5,
cited
in
Wilkinson
2003,
30).
It
begins
with the
premise
that focus-
ing
on
single
markers leads to
a false classification
of
people
that
simply
does not reflect
lived realities.
Peo-
ple's
lives,
their
experiences,
and
subject positions
vis-à-
vis
policy
are created
by
intersecting
social
locations.
As the
African American
Policy
Forum
(AAPF;
2009,
2)
so
aptly
explains,
"Contemporary
immigrants
are
not
all
Latino;
prisoners
are not
all
men;
affirmative
action ben-
eficiaries
are
not
all
African
American;
and
LGBT are
not
all white
and middle
class."
It
logically
follows then
that
no social
problem
that
policy
attempts
to address can
be
seen
as
the
product
of
one axis
of discrimination
or
one
homogeneous
group.
From
an
intersectionality viewpoint,
targeted
policies
are often
as ineffective
as
general
poli-
cies
in that both
fail to
address
multiple
identities
and
within-group
diversity,
that is
"constituencies
within con-
stituencies"
(AAPF
2009,
2).
The
significance
of
recognizing
intersecting
social
locations
in
policy
is well
illustrated
by
the
examples
of
violence
against
women
and crime
policy.
Focusing
on
the
gendered
nature
of
violence,
traditional
policy
responses
to violence
against
women have
emphasized
the common
experiences
of battered
women
(Sokoloff
and
Dupont
2005)
.
Policy
interventions
have
sought
to
extend
to
all
women
without
taking
into
account
that violence
does
not
have a
single
cause
and
that women
who
experience
it are
differently
situated.
Violence
against
women
cannot
be
read
through
the lens
of
gender
without
accounting
for
the
intersecting
factors
that
shape
the
lived realities
of
affected
women
and determine
their needs
and
help-seeking
pat-
terns
(Lockhart
and
Danis
2010;
Oxman-Martinez
et al.
2002).
Crime
policy
provides
another
illustration
of
how
the
focus
on
a one-dimensional
lens
and mode
of
inquiry,
in
this
instance
race,
has led
to research
and
policy
responses
that
reify
racism
because
they
obscure
the
multilayered
social
reality
of crime and fail to
respond
to the
ways
in
which
race,
ethnicity, gender, sexuality,
and
class relate
in the
context
of
criminality
(Barak,
Leighton,
and Flavin
2007).
In
sum,
the
examples
of violence
against
women
and crime both reveal the
limits of
policy making designed
to assist
target populations
who should
theoretically
ben-
efit from either
gender-targeted
or
race-targeted
public
policy
but
in
reality
benefit from
neither
(Hancock
2007,
66)
and demonstrate the need for
an
intersectionality-
approach
that is
grounded
in lived
experiences
and
that
captures
the
complexities
of
interdependent
social
locations.
An
intersectionality policy
analysis
also differs
from
policy
approaches
that
attempt
to understand
and
address issues
of
diversity
by starting
with one
identity
category,
such as
gender,
to which others
are added.
These
analyses
assume
unitary
categories
that are based on
a
uniform
set of
experiences
(Hancock
2007;
Hankivsky
2007a)
that
can be
simply
brought together
to understand
differences.
This
type
of
"additive
approach"
is
typical
but
inadequate
for
"getting
at the
layered
interrelation-
ships
between
wider social
inequalities
and individual
experience
of discrimination"
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
27).
In
the
context
of
policy,
the
pitfalls
of
an additive
approach
are
that
"policy
makers can
pick
their
categories
of
interest,
and deal
with them
in
isolation,
without
paying
attention
to how
they
intersect
with other social
division"
(Thorvaldsdóttir
2007,
6).
One
specific
area
where this
has
been
true is
in
the
field of
gender
mainstreaming,
which
has focused
on
the differential
effects
of
policy
on the
lives of
men
and
women,
without
properly
recognizing
the
diversity
among
men
and
women.
When
differences
are
taken
into
account,
they
are
treated
as
constituting
an
add-on
to the
variable
of
gender,
a
process
that
perpetu-
ates
policy
privileges
to
affluent,
educated,
white
women
(Hankivsky
2007a). Consequently,
there
have been
numer-
ous calls
to
replace
gender
mainstreaming
with different
forms
of
diversity
mainstreaming
informed
by
an
intersec-
tionality
lens
(Hankivsky
2007b;
CRIAW
2006).
An
additive
approach
may
also
lead
to
"oppression
Olympics"
where
marginal
groups
compete
with one
another
for
fringe
levels
of resources
instead
of
cooperat-
ing
with one
another
to
work
for
systemic
reform
that
could
alter
the entire
logic
of distribution
(Hancock
2007,
70).
Substituting
class
for
race-conscious
affirmative
action
policy
in
the
United
States
provides
one
such
illustration.
Rather
than
pitting
the
importance
of
race
and socio-
economic
status
against
each
other,
an
intersectionality-
informed
analysis points
to
the
relationship
and
indeed
interdependence
between
these
and
other
social
locations
and
why
these
should
be
front
and
center
in
any
effective
affirmative
action
program.
Using
this
approach
not
only
prevents
interventions
that
disproportionately
benefit
a
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Hankivsky
and
Cormier
2 1 9
small subset
of the
population
but also
opens
the door to
creating policy
that
may
be
far
more
effective
in
respond-
ing
to
all
those
in
need
of,
for
example,
affirmative action.
Hancock
(2007, 66)
has
similarly challenged
those
charged
with
policy making by posing
the
question,
"Instead of
designing policies
that
create
a
talented tenth
or a fortu-
nate
fifth
of
a
marginalized group,
how
might
we
redesign
domestic and
foreign policies
to ensure
that all
mem-
bers of
any marginalized group
are enabled to
empower
themselves?"
And
finally,
an
intersectionality analysis
reveals
how
policy
itself reifies the
oppressive consequences
of
intersecting
social locations.
In
the U.S.
context,
Simien
(2007, 269)
has demonstrated the
utility
of
using
inter-
sectionality
to
better understand the construction and
perpetuation
of
inequities
within
public policy by tracing
how certain
persons get
labeled as
"different,
troubled and
in
some
instances,
marginalized"
(Staunaes 2003).
Simien
explains,
"Public identities such as the
'welfare
queen'
and 'crack mother'
are modern
examples
of
intersecting
categories,
as
they
both
function as constructs that attend
to the
ways
in
which
race, class,
and
gender
interact to
provide
the
ideological justification
for
specific policy
measures that
produce
undemocratic
outcomes
in
the
United States."
In
a similar
vein,
Hawkesworth
(2003, 542)
describes how
processes
of
"racing"
and
"gendering"
affected
legislative practices
and
policy
decision
making
with
regard
to
changes
to
welfare reform
in
the United
States
in
1996. For
example, despite
attempts by
a con-
gresswomen
of color to
advance
legislation
designed
to
address the
structural causes
of
poverty,
the
changes
to
the welfare
system
instead
deliberately
targeted
unwed
mothers and
single-women
heads of
households,
making
it more
difficult
for them to
access
benefits
-
a
move
interpreted
as a
"thinly
veiled
attack
upon poor
women
of
color."
The
examples
highlighted
above show
the distinct
fea-
tures
of
intersectionality
and how it
can
reveal essential
information that
often
remains
hidden
in
policy
analysis.
But these
examples
are
only tips
of
the
iceberg.
There is
no area
of
policy
that
would not
benefit
from the
applica-
tion of
intersectionality.
And
if
one
considers
the aftermath
of
Hurricane
Katrina,
the
consequences
of the
economic
recession
and
the
growing
concerns
about
emerging
health
epidemics
internationally,
such
as
H1N1,
Weber
(2009,
4)
is
correct
in
observing
that
the
time has
never been
more
critical for
understanding
how
powerful
social
systems,
including
but
no
limited to
race,
class,
gender,
geography,
sexuality,
ability,
and
religion,
operate
and for
deploying
that
knowledge
to
create
socially just
policies
and out-
comes for all
people.
In
sum,
what an
intersectionality
perspective
does
for
public
policy
analysis
is that it
encourages
a
different
way
of
looking
at all
aspect
of
policy:
how
problems
are
defined,
how solutions are
developed
and
implemented,
and how
policy
is
ultimately
evaluated
(Hankivsky
2005).
This is because
an
intersectionality
analysis
encourages
looking beyond
the most
clearly
visible dimensions of
inequality
(Weber 2009)
to
recognize multiple
and inter-
secting disadvantages underlying
the construction of sub-
ject positions.
Within
this broader framework
then,
who is
at
issue,
and indeed the social construction of
many
pop-
ulations,
matters
just
as much as what is at stake
(Hancock
2007,
65).
And to
fully
understand who is at issue also
requires,
as is
explored
in
the
three
examples
below,
that
the voices
of vulnerable and
marginalized
individuals and
groups
be
represented
within the
policy-making process.
This
in
turn
can lead to reflexive
analyses
that reveal
meaning-making processes
of
privilege
and exclusion
in
policy
making
and
ultimately
lead to
the reconstruction
of harmful and
oppressive policies. Similarly,
Rummens
(2003,
25)
has
argued
that
the
"identification of different
socially-situated perspectives
will not
only provide
more
precise
information but also
yield greater
insights
into
systems
of
marginalization
and
oppression.
This will assist
policy
makers and services
providers
alike to
deliver more
effective and efficient
programs
and
services to better
meet
the needs of
those individuals and
groups
most dis-
advantaged by
social
inequities."
Challenges
of
Adopting
an
Intersectionality
Approach
to
Policy
Making
Despite
the
promise
of
opening
"new
spaces
for knowl-
edge production"
(Weber
and Fore
2007)
and
emerging
research from
many
policy
domains,
intersectionality,
to
date,
"has
failed to
reshape
substantively
mainstream
public
policy"
(Manuel
2006,
187),
largely
because of
the
salient
challenges
of
operationalizing
this
perspective.
As
early
as
1999,
Cuádraz
and Uttal
(1999,
158)
observed that
"translating
the
theoretical call for
studying
the
interlock-
ing systems
of
oppression
and
intersectionality
. . .
into
methodological practices
is
not
easy."
More
recently,
a
significant
number of
scholars
have
acknowledged
the
lack
of
effective
intersectionality
methodologies.
For
example,
Phoenix
and
Pattynama (2006,
1
89)
have
noted
that
the
most
formidable
challenge
to
engaging
with
the
intersectionality perspective
is that it
"does
not
have
any
methods
associated with
it or
that it
can draw
upon."
Hancock
(2007,
74)
has
argued,
"One area
of
research
that
remains
under-explored
within
intersectionality
is
the
development
of
research
designs
and
methods that
can
capture
effectively
all
of
the
tenets of
intersec-
tionality
theory."
And
Nash
(2008,
4)
has
concluded
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220
Political Research
Quarterly
64(1)
that
there
is a "lack of
clearly
defined
intersectional
methodology."
Although
the
relationship
between research
and
public
policy
is
complicated
and
that
research
often fails
to
pro-
vide definitive answers for
tackling complex
social
policy
problems
(Hankivsky,
et
al.
2007;
Nutley
2003a;
Nutley
2003b),
there
is
no doubt
that
in
the era of
evidence-based
decision
making,
policy
makers
rely
on and
draw on the
knowledge generated
from research.
Thus,
the
lack of a
clearly
defined
intersectionality
methodology
may
under-
mine the
generation
of
appropriate
information for
policy
application.
At
the same
time, however,
the
methodologi-
cal
challenges
transcend the
domain of research
and
also
present
formidable
challenges
for those
engaged
in
critical
policy
development
and
analysis.
In
the
words of Rönnb-
lom
(2008, 2),
because
of the
question
"How is
it done?"
there is
"a demand for
a more
explicit
methodology
for
carrying
out
policy
analysis
in
an intersectional
way."
Not
surprisingly,
then,
even
when
the
importance
of
diversity
is noted
and recommendations
are
made to
include
an
intersectionality approach
in
policy,
some
decision
makers
continue
to
espouse
one-dimensional
approaches,
such as
gender
mainstreaming
or
gender-based
analysis,
which
a number of scholars
and activists
(CRIAW
2006;
Hankivsky
2005;
Verloo
2006)
have
argued
elsewhere,
cannot
be
adapted
to address
multiple
inequalities.
Efforts
to move
beyond
"one-dimensional"
and
"additive"
policy
analyses
have
included
equality
mainstreaming,
diver-
sity
mainstreaming,
intersectional
feminist
frameworks,
intersectional
public
policy
analysis,
and multistrand
mainstreaming.
These
"multi-pronged,
multi-dimensional"
(CRIAW
2006) approaches,
which
reject
binary
think-
ing
in
policy,
share
the
logic
that
meaningful
attention
to
diversity changes
the
policy
questions
that are
asked,
the
kind of
data
that are
collected,
how data
are
collected,
and
how
data
are
disaggregated.
They
are concerned
with eval-
uating
the
efficacy
of
policy
initiatives
in
addressing
the
problems
faced
by
different
intersecting
identities
(Center
for
Women's
Global
Leadership
[CWGL]
2006).
Even
with
this
progress,
a number
of
key
issues
have
been identified
as
needing
further
attention.
First,
there
is
the lack
of
certainty
as
to
how,
when,
and
where
intersec-
tionality
frameworks
should
and
can be
applied
(Davis
2008;
Hankivsky
and
Christoffersen
2008;
Hankivsky
et
al.
2007;
Lorber
2006). Policy
makers
are not
clear
about
how to
(re)consider
their
approaches
to research
and
pol-
icy
in
light
of
the
variety
and
density
of
multiple
differ-
ences.
Related
to
this is
the
question
of
which
intersectional
categories
to
include
in
any given
investigation.
This
has
not been
fully
resolved
beyond
recognizing
that
there
should
be
no
a
priori
assumption
of the
importance
of
any
one
category.
The
lack
of
meaningful
direction
on
this
issue
is,
as
Thorvaldsdóttir
(2007, 3)
has
rightly
noted,
"a
vital matter
in
terms of
policy
making."
Not
surprisingly
then,
although
various bodies
within the UN
system
have
recognized
the idea of
intersectionality,
no
specific
policies
have been
developed
to address
intersectional
inequalities
(CWGL
2006).
In
Canada,
as
in
most other
countries,
with a few
key exceptions
(CRIAW
2006;
EGALE Canada
2002;
Hankivsky
2005;
Ontario
Human
Rights
Commission
2001) intersectionality
remains
a
relatively
unknown
and
underdeveloped
concept
in
policy
discourse
and
application.
Consequently,
it is not
enough
to
signal
contemporary
policy
debates
that would be
well
served
by
this
approach.
At this
juncture,
it
is crucial
to
also
consider
the advances
that have
been made to
deal
with the
challenges
of
operationalizing
intersectionality
in
the realm of
public policy
and
that further
the
development
of concrete
methodological
approaches
to
intersectionality-
informed
policy.
Approaches
to
Incorporating
Intersectionality
into
Policy
Making
and
Application
The
complexity
and relative
"newness"
of
intersection-
ality
approaches
remain
a
challenge
for
policy
makers.
Nevertheless
scholars
continue
to
work on
developing
various
tools
that can
be used
to
operationalize
intersec-
tionality.
To
date,
three
important
and distinct
approaches,
which
are
detailed
below,
have
been
developed
for
spe-
cifically
applying
intersectionality
to
public
policy.
The
first
approach,
space
as
an
analytical
dimension
in
inter-
sectionality policy
analysis
(Rönnblom
2008,
2),
seeks
to
generate
a more
explicit
methodology
for
doing
intersec-
tionality
policy
analysis
by
"stressing
the dimension
of
context
and
replacing
(and
stretching)
context
with
space."
The
second
approach,
intersectional
policy
process
anal-
ysis
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007),
is focused
on
reconceptualizing
the
typical
policy
cycle
using
the
case
study
of
education.
This
approach
is based
on
the
premise
that
policy
"proceeds
in distinct
stages
from
pol-
icy
formulation
to
implementation"
(John
1998,
204)
and
can be
broken
down
and
analyzed
in the context
of
its
constituent
parts.
The
third and
final
approach,
the
Multi-
Strand
Project
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
2008),
was
developed,
using
the
example
of social
care,
in the
U.K.
context,
where
emerging
legislation
is
prompting
pro-
gressive
work
to
develop
policy
models
that
are
able
to
address
multiple
grounds
of
inequality.
Each
approach
differs
in
terms
of
its
development.
For
example,
the
first
approach
is
largely
theoretical,
whereas
the
last
two
approaches
attempt
to
operationalize
their
methods
using
the
specific
policy
examples
of education
and
social
care.
And
arguably
the
third
approach
represents
the
most
fully
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Hankivsky
and
Cormier
22 1
developed
and
promising
method.
Despite
their
differ-
ences,
however,
all
of the methods are united
by
the fact
that
they
attempt
to "unravel how
social
categories
of
difference
intersect
in
constantly
changing
ways
in
order
to
crack
open oppressive
dialogues,
structures and
prac-
tices"
(CRIAW
2006,
10).
Approach
I:
Space
as an
Analytical
Dimension
in
Intersectionality Policy Analysis:
Rönnblom
The first
approach
to
applying
intersectionality
to
public
policy,
developed by
Swedish
researcher Malin
Rönnblom,
targets
a
specific
element
in
policy
analysis.
She
explains
that,
in
relation
to
policy
studies,
"there
is
a
need of
situating
the
analysis
to make
studies of how
different
power
relations intersect
possible
-
and coherent"
and
that
"including
a
spatial
dimension
in
policy
studies is
a
useful
methodology
for
doing
this"
(Rönnblom
2008,
4).
In
the
opinion
of
Rönnblom,
a
key
challenge
of an
inter-
sectionality analysis
comes in
trying
to
determine how
the
relationships
among
the
different
dimensions of
power
should be
conceptualized
including
whether,
for exam-
ple,
one
dimension
should
be
given
priority
in
relation
to
another. She
argues
that
one
possible
solution is
to use
space
as a
way
of
contextualizing
policy
analysis
so that
different
power
relations
and their
mutual
production
in
policy
are
better
understood.
According
to
this
approach,
context,
as it
is
typically
approached
in
policy
analysis,
is
seen as
overly
descrip-
tive and
static
whereas
the
concept
of
space
is
relational,
interactive,
fluid,
and
constantly
under
construction,
lead-
ing
to
the
possibility
to
see both
"subtle
tinges
of
the
pro-
duction of
power
and
the
several
dimensions of
power"
(Rönnblom
2008,
7).
Bringing space
into
the
analysis
also
provides
a
way
to
examine
how
the
political
is
produced
in
policy.
Most
importantly,
these
types
of
shifts,
gained
by
using space
to
create
new
meanings
of
context,
are
essential
when
doing
intersectionality
policy
analysis.
Key questions
in
Rönnblom's
spatial
analysis
include
the
following:
What
kind
of
space
is
regarded
as
interest-
ing
and
powerful?
How
are
space
and
place
constructed
in
the
text,
and
what
are
the
implications
of
these con-
structions
for how
policy
is
represented?
How
are
the dif-
ferent
subject
positions
constructed in
a
spatial
manner?
Who
has
agency
in
different
constructions
of
political
space?
What
kind of
geographic
imaginations
are
used
in
relation
to
the
policy
at
hand?
and
What
kind
of
political
imaginations
of
space
are
constructed in
the
same
pol-
icy?
Although
Rönnblom
does
not
systematically
apply
these
elements of an
intersectionality
policy
analysis
to a
detailed
case
study,
she
summarizes
that
her
elaboration
of context
into
space
means the
following
for the inter-
sectional
dimension of
policy
analysis:
It
brings
the
researcher "closer"
to the material
-
through
the
spatial
analysis
the theoretical under-
standings
of
power
constantly
need to
be clarified
in
relation to the
policy
at
hand
By
situating
the
analysis
in
more
depth
the
researcher has an
increased
possibility
of creat-
ing
a
more
fine-tuned
analysis
Spatial
dimension is
therefore intended
to work as
an
effective
"intersectionality
tool" for
policy
analysis
by
revealing
four
additional
dimensions of
(spatial)
contextualization,
summarized
by
answering
the
following
questions:
1
. How
has this
policy
area
being produced
over
the
years
(i.e.,
contextualizing
the
policy
area
in
rela-
tion to
the historical
development,
the more "tra-
ditional
way"
of
contextualizing
an
analysis)?
2.
What
kind of text
is this
(i.e.,
contextualizing
the text
as
such;
Who
has written
it? For
what
purpose? etc.)?
3. How
is
space/place produced
in
the
text
(i.e.,
ana-
lyzing
territorial
power
dimensions
in
the
text)?
4.
How is
space,
in
terms
of
relationships
of
power
and
agency, produced
in
the text?
For
Rönnblom
(2008),
the
answers to
these
questions
have
concrete
implications
for
understanding
how
space
is
produced
"both within
and
outside
the
policy
text,
and
ultimately
shedding
new
light
on
power,
power
rela-
tions,
and their
dimensions within
policy
analysis.
Approach
2:
intersectionality
Policy
Process
Analysis:
Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
The
second
approach
draws
predominantly
from
the
work
of
Bishwakarma, Hunt,
and
Zajicek
(2007,
1),
in
which
the
authors
strive
to
systematically
integrate
intersectionality
in
the
policy-making process
using
a
typical
policy
cycle.
Their
premise
is that
"since
governing
bodies,
both
national
and
international,
as
well
as
different
nongovernmental
organizations
have a
vested
interest
in
developing
social
policies
leading
to
inclusion
of
the
most
marginalized
groups,
they
must
integrate
intersectionality
at all
phases
of
policymaking process."
The
authors
draw
on a
concep-
tual
policy
framework
adopted
from
Dunn
(1994)
to
develop
questions
and
criteria
for
an
intersectionality
analysis
in
four
stages
of
policy
making.
In
their
proposed
framework
or
model,
they
argue
that
an
intersectionality
policy
process
analysis
should
include
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222
Political Research
Quarterly
64(1)
an examination of
each
stage
of
policy process
to deter-
mine the extent
(if
any)
to
which an
intersectionality
approach
is needed
and,
if it
is,
whether
it is included
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
9).
Moreover,
they argue
that to be done
effectively, "representatives
of
intersectionally-defined target populations
should be
included
proportionately
in the
policy process,
including
the
implementation
and evaluation
stages"
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
21).
This
helps
to avoid
policies
that are worked
out
for
rather than
with
politically
excluded
constituencies
(Phillips
1995).
Bishwakarma, Hunt,
and
Zajicek
present
a
practical
guide
to
policy
creation
using
an
intersectionality para-
digm,
which
they apply
to a case
study
of
education
in
Nepal.
Their
approach
consists
of four
stages
of
policy
making
detailed
below.
Each
stage
integrates
key questions
and issues
for
consideration,
which
we have
expanded
on
using
other
emerging
methods
and
examples
(CRIAW
2006;
Hankivsky
and Cormier
2009)
and which
demon-
strate
the
advantages
of
the
intersectionality perspective
for informed
policy
making.
I.Agenda
setting (problem
structuring).
The
first
stage
represents
the
problem
definition
stage
that draws
the
attention of
the
policy
makers
to
a
problem
that
requires
governmental
action
and
that
subsequently
morphs
into a
policy
issue.
Because
there
are so
many
key
stakeholders
with various
knowledge,
biases,
and
understandings
of
inequalities
involved
in
agenda
setting,
it is critical
to
understand
who defines
when,
where,
and
why
certain
policy
issues
become
important
and
which do
not.
The
first
stage
also
entails
establishing
whether
a
defined
pol-
icy
problem
is
experienced
differently
by
various
social
groups
and
therefore
requires
an
intersectionality approach
to
problem
definition
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
9).
This
involves
probing
beyond
a
single
identity
to
examine
what other
identities
may
be
interacting
to
create
a
situation
of
disadvantage
(CWGL
2006).
In the
process,
an
intersectionality
approach
resists
any group
generalizations
and focuses
on
layered
interrelations
between
social
inequities
and within
category
diversity.
This
step
may
involve
taking
into
account
a historic
account
of
the issue
as well
as
a situational
analysis
of
the
problem.
The historic
account
may
involve
considering
the effects
of
colonialism,
nation
building,
and economic
globalization
(CRIAW
2006).
The situational
analysis
is
a
comprehensive
diagnosis
that focuses
on
the
interaction
of
both
individual
and
institutional
factors
(Hancock
2007,
71)
that
can
illuminate
systems
of domination
and
individual
experiences
of
discrimination.
It entails
deter-
mining
which
categories
of
experience
are
prevalent
in
the context
of
the
policy
in
question.
And
it
also
leads
to
determining
whether
a current
policy
addresses
certain
disadvantages
but
creates
competition
and discrimination
for
others. As CWGL
(2006)
asks,
"Does
a
policy
initia-
tive
addressing
racial discrimination
and
economic
oppor-
tunity
for one
group
of women create
further tensions
with
other racial
or
ethnic
women,
thus
creating
a
competition
and
hierarchy
of minorities
that serves to
perpetuate
the
domination
of a
majority
group?"
2.
Policy
formulation
(alternatives
and
recommendation).
In
the second
stage
of
a
policy
cycle,
official
proposals
or
alternatives
are
developed
for
dealing
with
policy
issues
and
a
policy proposal
or alternative
is
adopted
by
a form
of
government
(legislative
majority,
agency
directors,
or
court
decisions).
The
policy
formulation
phase
must deter-
mine
if
the official
policy
proposals
address
the
problem
through
an
intersectionality perspective.
Informative
ques-
tions
in
such
an exercise
include
the
following:
What kind
of
program
or
policy
is envisioned?
What are the desired
or intended
results?
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
8).
Importantly,
decision
makers
should consider
the foreseeable
impacts
on
members
of vulnerable
and
marginalized
groups.
At
times,
this
may
require
the
col-
lection
of more
information
and
the
undertaking
of inter-
sectionality
research
that accounts
for
the simultaneous
operation
of
various dimensions
of
inequality.
In
proposing
policy
options,
Bishwakarma, Hunt,
and
Zajicek
acknowledge
that some
might
argue
that
national
policies
cannot
be
written to
include
every
group
within
the short
narratives
of
policy
framework.
However,
the
question
becomes
whether
there
is,
has
been,
or
will be
a
process
examining
whether
and how
the status
quo
and/
or
general
or
homogenous
policies
address
the
specific
consequences
of
oppression
for
the different
groups
of
"disadvantaged"
people
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
19).
Their
point
is
that
while
the
challenges
of
intersectionality
are
numerous,
a
more
complex
view
of
social
reality
in
policy
formulation
is
required.
3.
Policy
implementation
(monitoring).
In the
third
phase,
an
adopted
policy
is carried
out
by
an administration
unit(s) through
mobilization
of
finances
and
resources
in
compliance
with
the
policy.
This
phase
involves
evaluating
if an
adopted
policy
is
implemented
by
an administrative
unit(s)
or
relevant
government
department
in
compliance
with
the intersectional
nature of
the
problem
and
policy.
For
example,
evidence
of
the
intersectional
nature
of
policy
regarding
its
implementation
would
include,
among
other
things,
the
targeted
population's
membership
(and
mem-
bership
responsibilities)
within
the
implementing
agency
or
administrative
unit
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
10).
This
of course
highlights
the
importance
of
having
extensive
and
meaningful
inclusion
of
affected
key
stakeholders
throughout
the
policy
process.
4.
Policy
assessment
(evaluation).
Through
policy
assess-
ment
or
evaluation,
governmental
units
determine
whether
all
relevant
policy
actions
are
in
compliance
with
the
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Hankivsky
and Cormier
223
statutory requirements
of the
policy
and whether
policy
objectives
have been achieved.
In
the final
phase
of
a
pol-
icy cycle,
Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
(2007)
explain
that a decision
needs
to be made whether
policy objectives
have been achieved
given
the intersectional
nature of the
problem.
That
is,
they argue,
we need
to take into account
baseline conditions and
compare
the results
gained through
the evaluation or assessment
stage following policy imple-
mentation to assess whether the
policy objectives
have
been realized.
Approach
3: Multi-Strand
Project:
Parken and
Young
The third
approach
is based on
a
project
that was devel-
oped
in
response
to the "six-strand"
equal
treatment
legis-
lation
covering gender, disability,
race,
sexual
orientation,
age,
and
religion
(in
training
and
education)
in
the
United
Kingdom
and the need to
develop
a
road
map
for
a
cohe-
sive and
integrated approach
to
promoting equality.
These
U.K.
changes
were
prompted by developments
within
the
European
Union
and
in
particular
Article 13 of the EU
Treaty
of
Amsterdam,
which
took effect
in
1999 and
neces-
sitates that
member states must
protect
citizens from
dis-
crimination on a
number of
grounds
including gender,
race
or ethnic
origin,
religion
or
belief,
disability,
age,
and sex-
ual
orientation.
In
2006,
the
United
Kingdom passed
the
Equality
Act,
and one
year
later in
2007
the
government
established a
single equalities
body
-
the
Equality
and
Human
Rights
Commission
-
that
oversees a
full
spectrum
of
inequalities.
While it
has been
acknowledged
that
"attending
to the
specificities
of
different
forms of
equality
within
a
single
framework
poses
considerable
difficulties"
(Ben-Galim,
Campbell,
and
Lewis
2007,
21),
the
requirement
to
move
beyond
siloed
approaches
toward the
design
and
adop-
tion of "an
approach
that can
incorporate
and
manage
the
differences
in
origin
and
outcomes
between
strands"
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
26)
is at
the
foundation of
this
path
breaking
work. As the
authors
explain,
"Our
research
began
from
the
premise
that
what
was
required
was an
inclusive
method
capable
of
promoting
equality
through
policy
design,
informed
by
evidence.
We have
created a
multi-strand
approach,
which
avoids
'strand' issues
but
values the
different
knowledge
and
approaches
of
'strand'
voices"
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
29).
The
multistrand
model
presented
in
Figure
1
has
four
distinct
stages:
mapping,
visioning,
road
testing,
and
monitoring
and
evaluation. Each
of
these
stages
is
demonstrated
through
the
description
of
the case
study
detailed
below.
The
multistrand
approach
involves a
range
of
expertise
in
policy,
equality,
and
human
rights
and is
intended to
engage
with all
relevant
stakeholders.
It is "based
upon
the
collection, collation,
analysis
and
synthesis
of
equality
evidence for all
equality
'strands'
and human
rights
and those outside of 'strands'"
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
50).
According
to Parken and
Young
(2007, 50),
"It works to
promote equality
in a
positive, proactive
and creative
way."
This
approach
is
elaborated on further
in
the
example
described
in
the
next section.
As described
above,
the
purpose
of the
Multi-Strand
Project
(Parken
and
Young
2008),
undertaken
in
Wales
and
funded
by
the Welsh
Assembly
and the
Equality
and
Human
Rights
Commission,
was to
explore
how to achieve
equality
and
human
rights
across six
equality
strands:
gender,
race and
ethnicity,
ability,
religion
and
belief,
age,
and
sexual orientation.
Historically,
in
Wales,
each
individual strand has had
differing
aims
and
objectives
as
well as
varying degrees
of
political
clout and success in
influencing
the
policy-making process
in
each
respective
area of
concern. The Multi-Strand
Project brought repre-
sentatives from each
strand
together
and used an
"equal-
ity
mainstreaming" approach,
which builds on the
gender
mainstreaming
work of
Rees and Parken
(2002, 2003),
to
explore
the field
of
unpaid,
informal
caregiving
in
Wales. It
is
designed
to
promote
cross-strand
work,
and
the basic
assumption
underlying
an
equality
mainstream-
ing
approach,
in
contrast to a
gender
mainstreaming
approach
which
systematically prioritizes
gender,
is
that
each strand
is
equally important
in
the
policy
investiga-
tion
process
and that
equality
in
outcomes for all
groups
who
may
be affected
by
the
decision(s)
is the
principle
underlying
the
process.
The
Evidence
Panel of the
Multi-Strand
Project repre-
sented
experts
from
key organizations
with a
combina-
tion of
equality
knowledge
and
policy
knowledge
and
with
vested interests in
one or
more strands.
Following
initial
training
in
the
principles
underlying
an
equality
mainstreaming approach
and how
to
apply
this
approach
in
the
policy-making process,
the
Evidence Panel
worked
collaboratively
through
a
number
of
distinct
stages
to
explore
social care
policy
with
regard
to
unpaid,
informal
carers. The
first
step
involved
identifying
a
policy
field,
in
this
case social
care,
and
exploring
issues within
that
field
from
the
perspective
of
each
strand. The
second
step
involved
using
an
equality
mainstreaming approach
to
"mapping"
information
about each
strand within
the
field
of
social
care. For
example,
this involved
(1)
analyzing
qualitative
and
quantitative
data
from
secondary
sources
(e.g.,
census
data,
the
Labour
Force
Survey,
and
local
authority
figures)
to
determine who
is
providing
social
care,
(2)
examining
current
policies
(e.g.,
Carers'
Strategy;
Welsh
Assembly
Government
2000)
that
may
have
an
impact
directly
or
indirectly
on
caregivers,
and
(3)
reviewing
research
findings
from
various
stakeholder
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224
Political
Research
Quarterly 64(1)
Figure
I
.
MultiStrand
working
model
for the
promotion
of
equality
and
human
rights
in
a
policy
field
Source:
Parken
and
Young (2007).
Used
with
permission.
'
Policy
} f
Equality
Ì
Í Hvman
Right*
•xptrtbe
J
[
expertise
j
[
«tperttse
.
I
I
I
.
PREPARATION:
Establish current
approaches
of
policy
analyst, equality
experts
(including
differences
between
strandsl
and human
rights
experts
STAGE 1:
Mapping
Scrutinize broad dimensions
of the
policy
field.
{
f
Wrtat is the field
designed
to do? Who is
it
for?
[
What am
the intended outcome?
,
L^
Is the
way
the
policy
field
is
structured
Likely
to
cause or
perpetuate
disadvantage?
f
Does the structure
of the
policy
field
promote
vêtues
of
dignity.
!
respect,
fairness,
snd
autonomy?
'
Analyze
the
specific operation
of the
policy
field,
integrating
policy
and
equality knowledge
to
identify key
inequalities.
7
" "
N
does
the
policy operate?
|
f
Croat»
tqualltte*
and miman
rights
evidence bast.
rHow
Wtiat documentation
<^5ku5e?Wha<
»re
t^
Who te
*nr*g
arid
losing?
CoUectavailabta
systems
and
procestas?
Who
are the
commissioners,
evidence;
quantitative
(census,
labour force
survey,
service
provider«
and
inspectorates?
J
^^
,4,^^
ntt¡onal
earnings
survey,
integrated
~]
i
{
household
survey},
administrative
data sets and
I
c
;
;
'
qualitative
in-depth
academic
and
policy
research.
I
ÎhASÏA
*-
^^-Ws.howvWUth^befmedinlonger
! i
*Hfr*
»toman
Uwit
J
Appiy
equalities
budgeting.
Use data
schema to
I
establish
unintended
consequences.
!
Identify
ar>d
involve stakeholders
-including
U$e
cross-CUtting
policy
cues
if
applicable.
!
equality
odvocacy
groups
and service
users
in
j
i
providinq
evidence and
identifying
inequalities.
¡
j
t
Collate
results,
synthesize
and thematize
Findings:
Are there
common forms
of
inequality?
Do
human
rights
issues affect
different
groups
in
the same
or different
ways?
Are
different
inequalities
and
lack
of
concern for
human
rights
created
in
the same
ways?
Would
they
benefit
from the same
or
distinctive
change
measures
when considered
seperately
by
strand?
Policy
Equality
Human
Rights
expertise
J
I
expertise
J
I
expertise
1 1
i
STAGE
2:
VlsJonlng
With available evidence
that
you
have
collected
in
previous
stages,
vision"
changes
required
at
government,
local
government,
and
service
provider
levels
of
implementation
V V
V
STAGE
3:
Roadtesiing
Collate
"visioning"
and
run
cameos'/scenarios,
e.g..
will this
work
for a
gay,
disabled
man.
a
father
of two who
is
living
in a rural area
and
wants to
find and
pay
for
his own carer?
Will
it
work for a
single
Bangladeshi
mother
of three
on a low
income
living
in
Newport
who warts
to retrain
by
attending
Further
Education
College?
What services
would need
to be
in
place
to
open
access
in
practice?
I I
I
Design
consultation
/
engagement
with
stakeholders
(interest
groups,
equality
groups,
service
providers,
service
users,
inspectorates,
on
proposed
changes
to ensure
these
will
have
intended
benefits
t
i
i
STAGE
¿:
Monitoring
and
Evaluation
Set
equality
and
Human
Rights
indicators
and
outcomes
Identify inspectorates
and
provide
inspection
criteria
Set
strategy
for continuous
data
collection
to
ensure new
policy
and
service
provision
is
meeting
projected
outcomes
Review
_
USe feedback
from consultations
to refine
advice
and
information
cross-strand
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Hankivsky
and Cormier
225
groups,
which
in
general
the authors found to be nar-
rowly
focused on one strand.
The third
step
in
the
process
involved
"visioning,"
or,
as
stated
by
Parken and
Young
(2008, 10),
"asking
our-
selves what we can do to make
transformative
change by
creating policy
or
services
that
will
promote equality
and
human
rights."
The
process
of
visioning
involves col-
lapsing
the
findings
from the
mapping stage by
strand
to
identify
commonalities
among
strands. So instead
of
investigating
how best
to address issues of
equality
for
each individual
strand,
visioning
entails
revealing
com-
monalities
among
the
different strands and
striving
to
identify
common solutions that will
benefit all
strands.
For
example,
the
work of the
panel
revealed that finan-
cial
support
from
the
government provided
to
family
members who
stopped
working
or
worked less to care
for
someone would be
particularly
beneficial
to women
and older
and disabled
people.
The fourth
step
involved
"road
testing,"
whereby
unin-
tended
consequences
of
proposed
policy
solutions were
explored
using
the
input
of
key
stakeholder
groups.
In
short,
this
step
in
the
process
consisted of
"putting
one-
self
in
someone
else's shoes."
A
number of
vignettes
were
developed by
the
researchers,
and
the Evidence
Panel was
asked,
for
example,
to
consider how
their
policy
solu-
tions
would affect "'a
divorced disabled
Welsh
speaking
man
living
in
rural
Wales with
two
children,'
or on 'a
sin-
gle,
older
women
living
in
Cardiff
who works
part
time
and
cares for 30
hours
per
week,'
or 'a
Muslim
student
liv-
ing
in
Bangor,
caring
for
his
father'"
(Parken
and
Young
2008,
12).
From
the
perspective
of
each
strand,
issues
of
accessibility
and
inclusion
were
examined,
and
the exam-
ples
reflect
the
complexity
in,
and
multifaceted
aspects
of,
caregivers'
lives.
The fifth
and final
step,
"monitoring
and
evaluation,"
involved
identifying
and
measuring
markers of
improve-
ment in
achieving
equality goals
once
a
new
policy
implemented,
with
the
understanding
that
each
strand
may
have
individual
indicators
and
varying
degrees
of
success.
Among
the
proposed
activities for
monitoring
and
evaluation
included
identifying
equality
indicators
(e.g.,
increase in
use
of a
service,
improvement
in
qual-
ity
of
service),
continued
data
collection to
track
the
impact
of
policy
changes,
and
ongoing
consultation
with
key
stakeholder
groups.
With
regard
to
unpaid,
informal
caregivers,
information
about
"how
many
car-
ers
who
are
women
of
working age,
older
people,
or
disabled
people
have been
recruited and
retained in
good
quality
jobs
through
employment
support,
includ-
ing
flexible
working
arrangements
and
provision
of
respite
care"
represents
a
measurable
outcome of
the
success
of a
change
in
policy
and/or
practice
(Parken
and
Young
2008,
12).
Discussion
To
date,
there exists little
guidance
and no
synthesis
of
"best
practices"
resources for scholars
wanting
to
apply
inter-
sectionality methodologies.
The
knowledge
gap
between
the
theoretical construct of
intersectionality
and
its
prac-
tical
application
has been
identified
as a
priority
area of
concern. The
three
examples highlighted
in
this
article
provide
direction
for
policy
makers and
public policy
researchers who are
interested
in
applying intersectionality
theory
to their own
work but who
struggle
with
how
exactly
to do it. These
examples provide
important
insights
into how
the
public policy process
itself
may
be trans-
formed
by
the
adoption
of an
intersectionality perspective.
And while
they
represent
nascent
developments
in
devel-
oping
intersectionality
policy analysis,
they
do reveal
why
others
have concluded that
"the
policy
prescriptions
and
discourse
arising
from
such an
analysis
will
be more
true
to
people's
actual
lived
experiences
and
therefore more
effective and
better
able to
target
the actual location
of
oppressive
forces at
work
in
society"
(Bedolla
2007,
246).
The
distinctions,
however,
are also
apparent.
For
instance,
in
her
approach,
Rönnblom
targets
a
very spe-
cific
element
in
policy
analysis
-
space
-
to
understand
different
power
relations
and their
mutual
production
in
policy.
According
to
Rönnblom,
political
space
reflects
dominant
ways
of
thinking
about
society, politics,
and
change,
and
she
provides
a
number of
guiding questions
to
help
interrogate
the role
of
power,
a
key
element in
any
intersectionality
analysis,
in
producing
policy
and
policy
problems.
However,
this is far
from a
comprehensive
approach
to the
various
dimensions of
policy-making pro-
cesses.
In
comparison,
the last
two
examples,
Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
(2007)
and
Parken
and
Young (2008),
both call
for
situating
the
policy
issue within
the
broader
historical
and social
context
(agenda
setting
or
problem
structuring
and
mapping
the
context).
Also,
both
models
stress
the
importance
of
anticipating
the
possible
conse-
quences
of
policy.
Significantly,
however,
there
are note-
worthy
distinctions
between
these
models as
well.
Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek's
approach
provides
some
direction in
terms
of how
to
integrate
elements
of
intersectionality
within
a
four-step
policy
cycle,
includ-
ing
the
implementation
and
monitoring
of
alternative
policy
options.
However,
applying
intersectionality
to
a
policy
cycle
requires
a
certain
rigidity
that
recognizes
each
stage
as
having
"a
distinctive
characteristic
and man-
nerism
and
process
that
give
the
individual
stage
a
life
and
presence
of
its
own"
(John
1998,
21).
This
type
of
conceptualization
of
policy
is
often
critiqued
as
flawed
inasmuch
as it
exaggerates
the
tidiness
of a
process
that
is
altogether
more
complex,
fluid,
and
nuanced.
For
exam-
ple,
the
linear
description
of
the
stages
is
inaccurate
since
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226
Political Research
Quarterly 64(1)
the
process
often reveals
many
elements
of the
stages
in
different
order;
the model is
far
too
top
down
in
nature and
fails to factor
in
the interaction of
multiple differing
or
competing policy cycles
that have an
impact
on the
cycle
under
analysis
and on its formulation and
implementa-
tion
(Sabatier
1999,
7).
This
type
of
rigidity
is antitheti-
cal to an
intersectionality approach
that
by
its
very
nature
requires
fluidity, flexibility,
and attention to
the interac-
tion
of various levels of
analysis.
Most
importantly,
however,
this
approach
leaves
open
the
option
that inter-
sectionality
may
not
necessarily
be
required
at
each
stage
of the
policy
cycle.
An
intersectionality perspective
may
therefore
be treated
as an add-on to
an
existing
conven-
tional
approach
rather
than
being
a
transformative
source
for
policy
making.
The multistrand
approach
differs from
the other
two
approaches
as
it uses
a
more
comprehensive approach
to
policy
and
policy
change
and
introduces
a
unique
methodology
-
an
investigation
of
a
policy
field
(not
"proofing"
an
existing
or new
policy).
It then
proceeds
to
gather
evidence of
inequality
with the
aim of
creating
new
policies
that are able
to address
identified
inequali-
ties.
Accordingly,
this
approach
"does not
begin
with
'strand issues'
or
existing policies,
which
have
their own
way
of
framing
debates.
This method
[attempting
to
cap-
ture
the central
distinguishing
feature
of
intersectional-
ity] prevents
the distinctions
between
forms of
inequities
from
being
lost
and
provides
for
an
inquiry
that
would
capture
both individual
and
group
disadvantage"
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
28).
The
authors of
this
approach
explain
the
distinctive
aspects
of this
approach:
We
consciously
avoided
beginning
with one
strand
and
adding
others.
Neither did
we
begin
from
a
theme of
issue
and look
for
connections
across
"strands."
We
began
with
investigating
a
policy
field
-
social
care,
and then
focused
on
the
situa-
tion
of carers
-
asking
who
are
Wales' carers
by
quantitatively
and
qualitatively
using
the
"strands"
to who
they
were
and
what
inequities
they
may
be
subject
to.
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
28)
The
potential
strength
of the
multistrand
approach
vis-à-
vis
operationalizing
intersectionality,
which
has
yet
to be
applied
to
public
policy
areas
other
than social
care,
is
that
it
proposes
an
altogether
new
approach
to
policy
that
places
front
and center
intersectionality
at
all
stages
of
analysis.
Accordingly,
it has
the
capacity
to
(1)
identify
the
underlying
(sometimes
complex)
sources
of
inequal-
ity;
(2)
be
citizen
focused,
taking
into
account
the
whole
person
and not
just
a
single
aspect
of
identity
or
experi-
ence;
(3)
maintain
the distinctions
between
the
origins
of
inequality
between
"strands"
but
provide
an
integrated
method of
working
that will enable resources to be
targeted
toward
reducing
the
greatest inequalities;
and
finally
(4)
enhance the forms of democratic
participation
that
rec-
ognize
the
equal
worth and
dignity
of all "strands."
While the
multistrand
approach
continues
to be devel-
oped
and refined and can
be considered
superior
to the
other
two
approaches,
there are a number
of
questions
that
can be raised
in relation to its
analytic steps.
First,
there is
no clear
explanation
for how
an issue
is identified as
a
policy problem
or
priority,
a
process
that is no doubt
polit-
ical and involves
various institutional
power
dynamics.
Second,
while
being
inclusive
in terms of
all
equality
strands
is
commendable,
this
process
does
not allow for
a
decision-making process
that would
allow for
choosing
particular
intersections
to
focus on
nor the
possibility
of
recognizing
what social locations
may
be
the most
"sig-
nificant
explanatory
through-lines"
(Shields
2008,
307)
in
any given
context
or situation.
Third,
it
is
not clear
that
it sets out
an
adequate
process
for
ensuring
the
full diver-
sity
of
representation
from
relevant
stakeholders,
espe-
cially
those
who
may
be most
marginalized
in
terms
of
human
and
financial
resources
and their
relationships
to formal
power
structures
of
politics.
And
finally,
the
approach
could
arguably
be
improved
if
in
addition
to
"strand"
experts
the
process
would
allow
for
the cross-
sectoral
participation
of those
who have
insights
and
expertise
in how
to
conceptualize
and work
across
interactive
strands.
It
nevertheless
remains
a
promising
approach
as
it
represents
an
altogether
innovative
approach
to
policy
analysis.
To further
illustrate
the
potential
of
this
approach,
one
can
consider
U.S.
policy
debates
on
education
and health.
Obama's
education
policy
in the United
States
is
currently
focused
on
improving
the
quality
of education
by
increas-
ing
the
number
of
high-quality
charter
schools,
rewarding
effective
teachers
(linking
pay
to students'
standardized
test
scores),
and
reforming
low-performing
public
schools.
This
program
fails
to
fully
understand
the effects
of
social
location
on
educational
achievement.
For
instance,
seek-
ing
improvement
on standardized
tests
through
incentive
pay
for
teachers
does
not
recognize
that
the
problem
of
performance
cannot
always
be
explained
by poor
teach-
ing.
Powerful
forces
affect educational
achievement,
and
this can
be observed
by
considering
those
who are
at
risk
of
dropping
out of
school:
students
from
minority
groups
who often
live
in
low-income
homes
with
little food
secu-
rity.
Similarly,
those
with
low
performance
typically
have
lives
that
are
shaped
by
the
intersections
of
race,
class,
gender,
and
geography
and
that
impede
their
educational
achievements.
From
an
intersectionality perspective,
then,
educational
policy
reform
would
not be
limited
to school-based
solu-
tions
or
test score
results
to
improve
the
achievement
gap
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Hankivsky
and Cormier
227
in
education.
It would
link
educational outcomes
with
the
context of
people's
lives
-
that
is,
where
they
live and how
this is
linked
to
job
and food
security,
unemployment,
and
health insurance.
Fully understanding
the context of those
lives would
require
that
those who are
directly
affected
inform
policy
makers about
the
multiple
barriers that
policy
should start to address to
improve
educational out-
comes and achievement.
In
other
words,
intersectionality,
through
the use of a
process
such as the
multistrand
approach,
would
prioritize
identification of and
effective
response
to the
multiple
social
structures of
oppression
that
fundamentally shape
all
aspects
of education.
The current movement
to reform health
care
in
the
United States is another
important
example
of
how
a
multistrand
approach
can be
used to undertake an
inter-
sectionality analysis
of
policy.
To
date,
the
debate has
focused on
the number of
Americans and
specific
mar-
ginalized
groups
who do not have
any
form of
health
insurance. At
first
glance,
the
passage
of
the
health
insur-
ance bill
-
the
Affordable Health
Care for
America
Act
-
can
be seen as an
important
step
toward
recogniz-
ing
social
locations and
divisions
that
create
and
per-
petuate
health
disparities,
and
many
have
argued
it
is an
opportunity
to
correct
past
injustices
in
the context
of
public policy.
What is
often missed
from
the
debate,
however,
is that
while health
insurance is
important,
it
is
not
a
panacea
for the
poor
health
outcomes
and
per-
sistent
health
disparities
in
the
United
States
because
these are
dependent
on
more than
access to
medical
care. Health
insurance
reform,
by
itself,
will
not
likely
diminish the
inequalities
that
exist and that
are
caused
by
intersecting
factors such
as
race,
gender,
sexuality,
geography,
and class that
shape
the
broader
determi-
nants of
health
such as
people's
education,
incomes,
access to
healthy
food,
safe
housing,
and
recreation.
A
multistrand
approach
to health
policy
would
help
to
recognize
this
reality
along
with
the
intersections
between
different
equality
strands
because
it
helps
to
reveal
"how to
better
conceptualize
the
cumulative,
interlocking dynamics
that
affect
human
experi-
ences,
including
health"
(Hankivsky
and
Christoffersen
2008,
276).
Most
importantly,
an
intersectionality
multi-
strand
method
has the
potential
to shift
the terms
of the
health
policy
reform
debate
by
signaling
the need
to
identify
the
interacting
determinants
of health
beyond
the
health
care
system
itself
and to
address the
broader
structures of
inequality
that
affect
not
only
access to
health
but
also health
experiences
and
outcomes.
In
the
final
analysis,
however,
it
is
thus
important
to
acknowledge
that
moving
toward
applying
intersectional-
ity
in
a
systematic
and
effective
manner
is
fraught
with
challenges
and
requires
more than
the
development
of
effective
tools. It
also
requires
political
will
and
cannot
be realized or
managed
on a
purely
administrative level
(Parken
and
Young
2007).
Here,
it
is
important
to
recog-
nize that the
typical way
of
"doing" public policy
is
anti-
thetical to an
intersectionality approach:
"Public
policy,
by
its
very
nature
is reductionist and
incremental,"
whereas
intersectionality
seeks to "see and
respond
to the more
multifaceted
ways
that
identity
markers
shape
. . .
experi-
ences"
(Manuel
2006,
194-95).
Moreover,
for
intersectionality policy analysis
to be
brought
into the
mainstream,
adequate
resources are
required.
For
example,
successful
integration
of inter-
sectionality requires
appropriate training
because "multi-
strand
working requires
'strand'
advocates to be trained
in
the
different forms of
inequality
and
different
approaches
to
remedy
in
play
between 'strands'"
(Parken
and
Young
2007,
8).
This can
be both
costly
and
time-consuming,
whereas
public
policy
strives to
solve issues within
short
time
frames.
Furthermore,
to
move toward
effective inte-
gration,
policy
makers
need to draw on a
solid
base of
research
evidence,
have
access to
appropriate
data,
secure
appropriate
human
and
economic
resources,
and be
able to
engage
in
ongoing
intersectoral
debates that
include both
policy
and
equity
knowledge
from a
range
of
stakeholders.
As
the
CWGL
(2006)
has
argued,
national
and
interna-
tional
bodies can
play
a
role
in
implementing
and review-
ing
intersectionality
policy
initiatives.
Ultimately,
however,
those
who
engage
with
this work will
need to
be aware
of
issues of
power
in
that
those
groups
who
currently
benefit
from
policy
initiatives
may
be
resistant
to the
changes
that
may
be
brought
about
by
intersectionality
policy
making.
And
finally,
the
ways
in
which
policy priorities
and
programs
get positioned
within
processes
of
rescaling
and
the
role that
equality
seeking groups
and
advocates can
play
in
such
processes
are
critical. As
Crenshaw
(1995,
357)
puts
it,
"The
political
demands of
millions
speak
more
powerfully
than
the
pleas
of a
few
isolated
voices." How-
ever,
there
exists a
unique
"challenge
of
creating complex
alliances
across
intersecting inequalities"
(Bishwakarma,
Hunt,
and
Zajicek
2007,
25).
At
the
same
time,
there has
been
increasing
attention to
exploring
the
potential
of
intersectionality
as a
coalition-building
tool that
unites
individuals as
they
work
toward
a
common
agenda (Cole
2008;
Miller et
al.
2007).
For
example,
intersectionality
can be
applied
to
acknowledge
and
understand
difference
and
to
illuminate both
overt
and
subtle
similarities
(Cole
2008).
This
implies
moving beyond
conceptions
of
iden-
tity
and
exploring
shared
experiences
and
interests and
ultimately
identifying "spaces
for
shared
mobilizations"
(Cole
2008,
447)
in
a
common
pursuit
of
social
justice.
Clearly,
there
is
an
important
role
for
coalition
building
and
complex
alliances
in
enabling
the
operationalization
of
intersectionality
and
making
transformative
change
in
the
sphere
of
public
policy.
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
228 Political Research
Quarterly 64(1)
Conclusion
As this article has
demonstrated,
by
drawing
on intersec-
tionality
to
bring
to
the
foreground
the
various
background
dimensions
that
interact to create
layers
of
inequality,
a
more
complete
and
sophisticated analysis
can be devel-
oped,
one that better
captures
the
ways
in which
public
policy
is
experienced by
various
groups
of women and
men who
may
experience multiple
forms of discrimina-
tion
(Hankivsky
2005).
Policy
makers
may
be
persuaded
to
incorporate
this
approach
into their work
if
they
under-
stand
that it has the
potential
to lead to more
effective,
responsive,
and therefore efficient
policy
decisions.
The
challenge
now is
to build on these
initial
developments
and
in
particular
the
multistrand
approach
to further
develop
the
application
of
intersectionality
in
relation
to a
range
of
social and
political
issues
across
a
variety
of
policy
sec-
tors.
The
promise
of
intersectionality policy
analysis
is
great;
it
does
make available
a novel
way
of
understand-
ing inequity
as
both
experienced
and
systematically
struc-
tured
in a multiscalar
way.
In the
end,
intersectionality
does
provide,
as Hancock
(2007, 73)
so
succinctly
puts
it,
"the
best chance
for
an effective
diagnosis
and
ultimately
an effective
prescription."
Declaration
of
Conflicting
Interests
The authors
declared
no
potential
conflicts
of interests
with
respect
to the
authorship
and/or
publication
of this article.
Funding
The
authors received
no
financial
support
for
the research
and/
or
authorship
of
this article.
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... Although at the early stages of development regarding its application to policy (Hankivsky and Cormier, 2019), the intersectionality approach provides an opportunity to advance the understanding of multiple and intersectional inequalities that underline childcare-related policy designs and developments, including their implications for various groups of parents. Intersectionality-led policy analysis suggests that 'who is at issue matters just as much as what is at stake' (Hancock, 2007: 65) and is also sensitive to situating policy analysis in a broader historical and societal context allowing one to anticipate better possible implications of a particular policy (Hankivsky and Cormier, 2019). ...
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