McNulty, Ann, Richardson, Diane and Monro, Surya (2009) Head above the Parapet: Organisational Resistance and Sexualities Equalities Work in the UK. In: 9th Conference of the European Sociological Association: European Society or European Societies?, 2nd - 5th September 2009, Lisbon, Portugal. (Unpublished)

In recent years the UK has seen a raft of new legislation concerning equalities and human rights. This legislation, and the policy drivers issued by central government in relation to equalities, are interpreted in varied ways by the local authorities that are tasked with implementing them. Processes of organisational change, and resistance to change, are apparent within these local authorities and their statutory partners. These processes are shaped by the dynamics that play out in relation to the different strands of equalities work, and the intersections between them.
This paper presents findings from an Economic and Social Research Council-funded examination of the impact of recent policy changes, in different parts of the UK, on sexualities equalities initiatives. Interim findings suggest that initiatives aiming to implement sexualities equalities policy are spread unevenly across local authorities. Patterns of resistance to conducting sexualities equalities work are affected by factors such as rural/urban differences, political alliances of the different localities, and the socio-economic profile of the local population. Via a focus on sexualities equalities, the paper explores patterns of organisational resistance. In doing so it pays reference to an intersectionality framework, something that is important to local authority equalities work in the UK, where equalities strands are managed in ways that are structured not only by legislative drivers but also by a complex interaction of racialised, sexualised, classed and other dynamics. The paper examines the ways in which local authorities manage the tensions, divergences, and overlaps between "race", faith, disability, gender and age equality strands. It highlights the construction, in some authorities, of sexualities equalities as an uncomfortable area of work "at the bottom" of the equalities hierarchy.

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