Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The Feminist Potential of Sociological Institutionalism

By Fiona Mackay, Surya Monro and Georgina Waylen


On the face of it, there is considerable potential for productive dialogue between sociological institutionalism (SI) and institutionally oriented feminist political science (FPS). Both approaches employ broad conceptions of the political and its interconnection with the social: Each is concerned with the interaction between actors and institutions, broadly defined; the interplay between formal rules and informal practices, norms, and “ways of doing things”; and the consequent effects of these dynamics. Each approach takes a “value-critical” stance, sharing an understanding that seemingly neutral institutional processes and practices are, in fact, embedded in norms and cognitive frames, and in wider cultural contexts. In this short essay, we argue that SI provides one fruitful source for tools and paradigms beyond conventional political science (Lovenduski 1998; Mackay 2004), tools that may potentially enhance feminist analyses of key questions such as the following: How are institutions and institutional processes gendered? By what processes and mechanisms are institutions (re)produced and, in turn, reflect and reproduce social systems, including gender relations? How do institutions constrain actors and interests? And what is the gendered potential for, and what are the limits of, institutional innovation, reform, and change in pursuit of gender justice

Topics: H1
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2007). Engendering Transitions: Women’s Mobilization, Institutions and Gender Outcomes. doi
  2. (1992). Feminist Change in a Patriarchal Organisation: The Experience of Women’s Initiatives doi
  3. (2006). Feminists Theorize the State. doi
  4. (1998). Foreword.” In The New Institutionalism
  5. (2004). Gender and Political Representation in the UK: doi
  6. (2005). Gender Mainstreaming— an Innovation in Europe? The Institutionalisation of Gender Mainstreaming in the European Commission. Opladen: Barbara Budrich. doi
  7. (1992). Gendered Institutions: From Sex Roles to doi
  8. (2004). How Institutions Evolve: The Political Economy of Skills doi
  9. (2000). Increasing Returns, Path Dependence and the doi
  10. (1991). Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony.” In The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis.
  11. (1977). Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structures as doi
  12. (2003). Institutions, Change and Gender Relations: Towards a Feminist New Institutionalism.” Paper presented to the European Consortium of Political Research Joint Sessions of Workshops,
  13. (2002). Managerialism, Modernisation and Marginalisation: Equal Opportunities and Institutional Change.”
  14. (2007). New Institutionalism and Sexuality at Work in doi
  15. (2005). Organizations and Movements.” doi
  16. (2004). Politics in Time: History, Institutions and Social Analysis. Princeton: doi
  17. (1987). Rediscovering Institutions. doi
  18. (2003). Sex and the State. Cambridge: doi
  19. Slow-Moving and Invisible: doi
  20. (1998). Sources of New Institutionalism.” doi
  21. Staking the Frame of a Feminist Discursive Institutionalism Teresa Kulawik, doi
  22. (1991). The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” doi
  23. (1996). The Path to European Integration: doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.