Identifying the institutional micro-foundations of gender policy change: a case study of police governance and violence against women and girls

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The literature has established an association between institutional transformation and opportunities for gender policy change. It is clear that new actors and new rules are significant but less is known about their interaction. A case study of reform in police governance provides an opportunity to examine how the micro-foundations of institutional change impact gender policy. Ostrom’s concept of ‘rules-in-use’ captures, in combination, rules and their enactment. Interviews with a new cadre of directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners revealed the ways in which they worked with new institutional rules to prioritize violence against women and girls. Seven sets of rules are identified, arranged along a formal-informal continuum. Most were not specifically “about gender” but, when enacted by motivated, knowledgeable and reflexive actors, they facilitated gender policy change. A focus on micro-foundations enables the identification of institutional building blocks for gender policy change, recognizing the co-constitutive relationship of actors and rules.

Bibliographic note

Not yet published in issue as of 18/02/2021.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalPolitics & Gender
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2021