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Open Access Travels, triangles and transformations

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The Velvet Triangle is a heuristic concept designed to describe interactions between policy makers and politicians, feminist academics and experts, and the women’s movement in European Union policy making. This article describes how the concept has travelled from its 2003 origins as a descriptor of informal relations in poli making to become a way of describing policy networks in settings beyond gender equality policy. The travels themselves provide an illustration of the personal networks that underwrite the exchange of ideas in feminism. European Union financing played a central role in facilitating the construction of cross-border contacts between policy actors, academics, and civil society. Further, the article asks to what extent figures such as triangles are a good way of representing relations in gender equality policy-making. Finally, there is a discussion of the transformations in policy making in the last ten years, and the relevance of the observations about informal relations in policy making for other equality movements such as those around sexual orientation. Given the challenges of austerity and women’s movement fatigue, in what ways has the gender equality velvet triangle been transformed in the last years?
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Keywords: European Union (EU); Feminism; Velvet Triangle; gender equality policy; policy networks; women’s movement

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Alison E. Woodward (Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Berkeley) is Research Professor at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and emeritus co-director of RHEA, the Center for Gender Studies and Diversity Research. She is a Senior Associate of the Institute for European Studies at the VUB and a long-time fan of associations for Women’s/Gender Studies in Europe.

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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  • Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is het forum voor de wetenschappelijke problematisering van sekse in relatie tot andere vormen van discriminatie en uitsluiting zoals etniciteit, seksualiteit, klasse of leeftijd. Er worden artikelen in gepubliceerd over gendervraagstukken vanuit alle relevante disciplines die een wetenschappelijke bijdrage leveren aan debatten over gender en intersectionaliteit in Nederland en Vlaanderen. Het tijdschrift is een interdisciplinair medium op het kruispunt van maatschappij-, cultuur-, geestes-, gezondheids- en natuurwetenschappen. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar en biedt wetenschappelijke artikelen en daarnaast ook interviews, boekrecensies, discussiedossiers en opiniërende artikelen in het Nederlands en Engels. Artikelen worden dubbelblind beoordeeld door externe deskundigen.

    The Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (Journal of Gender Studies) is a Dutch language forum for the scientific problematisation of gender in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. The journal aims to contribute to debates about gender and diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders. The journal is an interdisciplinary medium operating at the intersection of society, culture, the humanities, health and science. The editorial staff is open to articles about gender issues from different disciplines, and also accepts English articles. As well as publishing articles, the journal includes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, reviews, summaries of dissertations and conference reports. Articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process.
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