Here we go again! Repetition and the politics of inclusive institutional reform

Licia Cianetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article introduces repetition as a sui generis temporal pattern that is central to the politics of inclusive institutional reform. Pushed by crises or leadership changes, inclusive reform initiatives spring up in moments of high salience only to die back again and be relaunched later, in a seemingly endless cycle. Drawing from public policy, historical and feminist institutionalist scholarships and the in-depth case studies of Birmingham and Turin city governments’ equalities offices, this article identifies (a) four drivers of repetition, to do with the nature of the problem, the nature of the institution, the nature of the change agents, and repetition’s self-reinforcing nature, and (b) two sets of effects (sedimentation and erosion) which follow concurrent logics of increasing and decreasing returns. Understanding repetition as a specific, non-linear pattern of change eschews teleologies of hope or doom, advancing theories of institutional change and serving as a useful guide for action for equity-driven reformers. It invites other scholars to engage with a new research agenda to systematically identify alternative types of temporal sequence and study their distinct logics and effects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Early online date2 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2023


  • policy change
  • mainstreaming
  • institutional change
  • reform
  • inclusion
  • repetition


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