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Nested Newness, Institutional Innovation, and the Gendered Limits of Change

  • Fiona Mackay (a1)


Opportunities for innovation are created by broad restructuring processes and by the chance to be in at the start of new or substantially revised political institutions. These intuitions have animated the efforts of women's movement activists and their allies in processes of political transition and constitutional or institutional “engineering” (and reengineering) with the aim of embedding gender rights and freedoms (Banaszak, Beckwith, and Rucht 2003; Dobrowolsky and Hart 2003). Institutional theory supports these intuitions. Reformers—including feminist change agents—may take advantage of the “permissive” stage of institutional creation. By successfully intervening to insert new actors, new values, and new rules into new institutions, reformers may profoundly influence the future developments of an institution (Goodin 1996; Pierson 2004). By “locking in” elements that promote gender equality and gender justice at the stage of institutional design, the goal is to set off fledgling institutions along progressive paths, thus counteracting historic gender bias and gendered power imbalances found in most traditional political institutions.



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