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European Integration Theory

European Integration Theory (3rd edn)

Antje Wiener, Tanja A. Börzel, and Thomas Risse
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p. 1749. European Integration and Genderlocked

p. 1749. European Integration and Genderlocked

  • Yvonne Galligan


This chapter analyses theories of European integration through a gender lens. It points to the diversity of perspectives in gender scholarship on European integration, and draws on these different points of view to examine other theoretical approaches. It assumes that gender is a basic organising principle of the social world, and therefore is an integral aspect of European integration. The chapter discusses gender theory and its contribution to the study of European integration. It then goes on to interrogate other European integration theories - liberal intergovernmentalism, neofunctionalism, and social constructivism – examining the nature of gendered power that they emphasize and evaluating the extent to which they are open to incorporating a gender-informed perspective. The chapter then analyses the integrationist effect of the European economic crisis on gender equality. This discussion reveals the marginalization of gender equality, and gender mainstreaming, as the neo-liberal response to the economic crisis created new gender inequalities and perpetuated old patterns of gender hierarchy.


European integration is described and analysed according to a number of theoretical approaches that contribute different perspectives on the integration process. Explaining intergovernmental bargaining, analysing processes and institutions, and understanding the co-constitutive effects of integration have generated several influential explanatory theories (Kronsell 2012: 23). However, it is quite remarkable that despite a flourishing scholarly debate on the subject, awareness of the gender perspective on these conceptual frameworks is absent from these theories (Hoskyns 2004; Locher and Prügl 2009; Bieling and Diez 2016).

p. 175To be fair, gender scholarship itself has only recently come to engage with European integration theories, even though the body of gender-focused studies of EU politics and policies has grown in tandem with the EU’s ever-expanding remit. Initially focused on social and employment policies, gender scholars have interrogated the performance of the European Union on matters such as equal pay and employment equality (Hoskyns 1996; Guerrina 2005; MacRae and Weiner 2017). Other research focused on aspects of institutional integration such as gender mainstreaming (Pollack and Hafner-Burton 2000; Rees 2005; Galligan and Clavero 2007; Beveridge and Velluti 2008; Allwood, Guerrina, and MacRae 2013), enlargement and the institutions, and the contextual framework for policy formation, learning, and congruence (Stratigaki 2004; Verloo 2007; Lombardo and Verloo 2009; Abels and Mushaben 2012; Lombardo and Meier 2014). In addition, gender scholars have addressed the EU’s policies on violence against women, sex trafficking, gender in security and foreign policy, and development policy (Kronsell 2005; Kantola 2010; Debusscher 2011, 2014). Feminist scholarship on policy areas that do not appear overtly related to gender equality is the next phase of this scrutiny of European integration, with a growing body of research on the gendered nature of research (Mergeart and Lombardo 2017), common security and defence (Kronsell 2016a), environment and climate change (Allwood 2017), and intersectionality (Kantola 2014). From this rich policy literature, theorizing in ‘grand theory’ terms on European integration from a gender standpoint is beginning to emerge (Weiner and MacRae 2014; Abels and MacRae 2016a; MacRae and Weiner 2017).

As of now, there is no consensus on a singular gender theory of integration, nor is there a single gender approach (Abels and MacRae 2016b: 12). Instead, the analysis of European integration is characterized by multiple gender-informed theoretical and empirical studies that rest on a variety of epistemological strands of feminist research. These perspectives lead to diverse understandings of integration that are linked through the unifying ontological position that ‘gender is a basic organising principle of the social and political world’ mediating the access to and use of power and authority (Locher and Prügl 2009: 181). Thus, gender is taken as an analytical category with relevance to European integration. A gender viewpoint reveals that the integration process is imbued with conceptions of femininity and masculinity, and asymmetrical gender power relations that reinforce or reform the gender order underpinning European integration. The ‘grand theory’ is still in the making.


At this point it is useful to clarify what is meant by the term ‘gender’. Sandra Harding, in a classical feminist critique of science, defines gender as ‘an analytic category within which humans think about and organise their social activity, rather than as a natural consequence of sex difference’ (Harding 1986: 18). This understanding has been adopted by politics and international studies feminist scholars who routinely deploy it when theorizing on gender and politics. Philosopher Charlotte Witt (2011) extends this relational understanding further, bringing the dimension of social space into the frame with the p. 176argument that gender is a ‘life-long social position’—in other words, the gendered social position of an individual exists throughout the social life of an individual. Indeed, Witt argues that gender unifies and organizes all our other social roles: being a man and being a woman are social positions that come with social norms and, according to Witt, people ‘are responsive to, and evaluated with respect to these norms irrespective of their self-understanding or their endorsement of these norms’ (Sveinsdóttir 2012). For feminist politics and international relations scholars, this additional aspect of gender links to the constructivist notion of ‘social agent’ and enables consideration of the informal, along with formal, contexts in which gender is co-constituted, reproduced, or even disrupted. The notion of positionality also preoccupies Alcoff, who brings the prospect of political agency into the discussion, and holds that ‘gender is, among other things, a position one occupies and from which one can act politically’ (Alcoff 2006: 172), thereby providing the basis from which feminist and masculinist politics springs. Thus, gender applies to both males and females. It constitutes an ontological position that is shaped by the social existence of humans and the social norms attaching to their existence as social beings.

In the study of politics, the concept is deployed in many ways, ranging from gender as a synonym for sex (usually expressed as a male–female binary and dominant in positivist politics scholarship) to socially constructed identities and practices that are given masculine and feminine attributions (Beckwith 2005: 130–1). The concern of feminist political science has been to construct an understanding of gender that enables the scholar to problematize, and thereby illuminate, the shifting and fluid dynamics of power relations between masculine and feminine identities. In other words, it adopts a more expansive and interpretive view than that which treats gender as a sex variable. This iterative view delivers an approach that applies a gender lens to the political world. Joan Scott brought in the central political concept of power into this understanding of gender when she observed that gender was a way of interpreting the social (including political) world (1986: 1066). For Scott, gender has two aspects: as ‘a constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes’, and as ‘a primary way of signifying relationships of power’ (Scott 1986: 1067). From this two-fold understanding, feminist scholars have constructed gender as a relational analytical category that ‘functions as a heuristic device that illuminates areas for inquiry, frames questions for investigation, identifies puzzles in need of exploration and provides concepts, definitions and hypotheses to guide research’ (Hawkesworth 2005: 144). As Locher and Prügl (2009: 182) observe, ‘(A)s a relation, gender ceases to function as a causal variable that can deliberately be included or excluded in an explanatory model, but becomes an integral part of social phenomena such as the European integration process.’

With these rich and diverse understandings of gender, feminist scholars in political science have been able to interrogate how gender power hierarchies are produced and maintained, and reveal how institutional processes—formal and informal—contribute to sustaining these gendered power relations (Mackay, Kenny, and Chappell 2010; Haastrup and Kenny 2016: 200–7). The feminist scholar, then, has a rich conceptualization of gender to draw on in taking issue with the dominant theories of European integration that, consciously or unconsciously, present the male norm as unproblematic, power as un-gendered, and gender power relations as invisible.

Key Points

Gender understandings of European integration are founded on the premise that ‘gender is a basic organising principle of the social and political world’.

A gender approach reveals the asymmetrical gender power relations that reinforce or reform the gender order underpinning European integration.

Gender is defined as a relational analytical category that is an integral part of the European integration process rather than a causal variable open to being included or excluded at will.

Adopting this definition can reveal how institutions and processes—formal and informal—contribute to sustaining gendered power relations.

p. 177Gender Equality

Gender equality is a founding norm of the European Union, since its inclusion as an equal pay for equal work principle in Article 119 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. In modern times, it has found expression as a constitutional principle, reflected in the Treaty on the European Union (TEU, Article 2) as well as an objective of the EU (TEU, Article 3). Gender equality is also an active policy intention, as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union aims to promote equality between women and men in all its activities (TFEU, Article 8). Equality between women and men is recognized in the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 23), which also provides for positive action to redress gender inequity. Equality between women and men in the European Union is cast as a ‘fundamental right’, a ‘precondition for effective democracy’ and a means to ‘deliver lasting economic growth’ (European Commission 2014: 5). Thus, what was at the outset a single and relatively modest equality measure designed to counter unfair competition has become the basis for a diverse and dynamic policy agenda. Gender equality today addresses gender-based inequalities in employment, pay, and decision-making, provision of services, citizenship rights and free movement, along with a focus on eliminating gender-based violence and promoting women’s rights globally (European Union 2016a: 9). In addition, member states are required to recognize the principle of gender equality in national policy and legislation on issues covered by European Union equality rubrics (McCrudden 1993: 322–6). However, it is important to note that the EU’s ‘constitutional’ advocacy of gender equality is a conditional one. Policy areas of special import for gender equality (family law, social security, and social protection) are subject to the unanimous decision-making rule in the Council—a higher bar than is required in other policy areas (Bisio and Cataldi 2008: 8).

Through the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has accorded gender equality the status of a ‘fundamental value’ and equal opportunities between women and men have received a new impetus with the according of co-decision powers between the Council and European Parliament (Galligan and Clavero 2015). Furthermore, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which confers EU citizens and residents with specified political, social, and economic rights, was given treaty status in 2009. This basic legal framework provides p. 178a bedrock of social guarantees on the equal status of women with men, and underpins extensive policy development in matters of gender relations (Hubert 2012).

The transmitters of the gender equality norm enshrined in European treaties take multiple binding and non-binding forms—directives, findings of the European Court of Justice, and a range of ‘soft’ law instruments and policy harmonization measures. Together, they constitute the basis of a European gender order, shaping and constructing gender relations, just as the integration process is structured by gender relations (Walby 2004; Locher and Prügl 2009).

Gender Mainstreaming

By the 1990s, the persistence of gender-based inequalities led to a search for a new strategic approach to gender equality as an alternative to the regulatory and economic instruments of the customary EU approach. The focus became less on strengthening equality laws and more on ensuring that all other policies took account of the impact on gender equality. Drawing on critical gender analysis in development studies (Jahan 1995; Moser 1993) and the work of gender scholars challenging the androcentric nature of policy, processes, and institutions (Rees 1998; Hawkesworth 1994), the ‘genderedness’ of European governance and policy-making became the focus for addressing gender inequality (Rees 2005: 558 cited in Cavaghan 2013: 408). From this analysis came the strategy of gender mainstreaming, endorsed by all governments and civil society actors represented at the United Nations Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995. In short, this new way of viewing policy added another element—that of gendered impact—to the equal opportunity and equal treatment framework of the EU (Pollack and Hafner-Burton 2000; Kronsell 2005; Jacquot 2015). However, feminist scholarship points to the piecemeal and uneven effect of gender mainstreaming on integration-focused policies, among others (Jacquot 2010; Lombardo 2013). Summing up two decades of gender mainstreaming effort, Weiner and MacRae (2014: 2–3) conclude: ‘We concede that there are small—often hard-won—gains in mainstreaming gender in EU policy. However, there are numerous instances […] in which gender mainstreaming makes no progress; gender mainstreaming rolls back out of policy, or alternatively, never rolls in at all.’

Key Points

Gender equality is a founding norm of the EU (Treaty of Rome, 1957).

In the Lisbon Treaty, the EU accorded gender equality the status of a ‘fundamental value’.

The transmitters of the gender equality norm and value take multiple binding and non-binding forms—directives, findings of the European Court of Justice, ‘soft’ law instruments, and policy harmonization measures.

Gender mainstreaming focuses on ensuring that all policies take account of their impact on gender equality throughout the policy cycle.

It has not been universally applied in EU policy-making, and thus has a piecemeal and uneven effect on integration-focused policies.

p. 179Gender Theory and European Integration

The concept of gender is situated in the broad set of feminist ideas generally described as ‘gender theory’ (see Smith 2001 for a general overview). Gender theory sees femininity and masculinity as ‘sets of mutually created characteristics shaping the lives of women and men’ (Smith 2001: 1). It has provided gender scholars with the theoretical tools to identify, discuss, and challenge the androcentric nature of the social world, including politics. In doing so, it has enabled feminists to problematize the position of men vis-à-vis women, and the role of masculinity in creating structures of domination and gendered social hierarchies in the social world. This is particularly relevant for studying European integration and the application of feminist epistemologies to this field. As Locher and Prügl (2009: 182) observe:

European integration is part of a sociopolitical world that is fundamentally structured by understandings of femininity and masculinity and contributes to reconstructing these understandings. Gender approaches assume that one can only fully understand and explain large parts of the European integration process with the help of a gender-sensitive perspective—that is through an analysis that also focuses on the (re-)construction, malleability and functionality of gender in the making of Europe and on the norms, ideas, discourses, and practices that sustain and advance the process. Conversely, European integration constructs gender in new ways, i.e. it newly produces mutually constitutive understandings of masculinity and femininity.

Politics research informed by gender theory considers gender as an analytical category in which power, and power relations, are embedded (MacRae 2016: 69). Hawkesworth (2005) provides a useful categorization of power that can be applied to a gender theory analysis of European integration. Firstly, there is the voluntarist conception of power, which uses a model of ‘abstract masculinity’ to legitimate the actions of states, groups, and individuals in response to furthering their interests, without taking cognisance of the social and structural forces that constrain choice (Hawkesworth 2005: 147–9). A second model of power is based on structure, which emphasizes that gender inequalities are embedded into the rules, practices, and policies that normalize the androcentric nature of politics (Hawkesworth 2005: 150–1). In exposing this aspect of power, gender theorists—and especially those adopting a feminist institutionalist analytical viewpoint—address the informal as well as the formal institutions that shape the political opportunity structure to favour the interests of masculinity (Mackay, Kenny, and Chappell 2010).

Gender theorists reveal, then, that there is no such thing as a gender-neutral institution. Most of the studies on gender mainstreaming in the EU, including the broader feminist theorizing that is now taking place, are sensitive to the multiple meanings of gender in European integration (Abels and Mushaben 2012; Weiner and MacRae 2014; Abels and MacRae 2016a; Kronsell 2016b; MacRae and Weiner 2017). A third conception of power ‘conceives power as constituted in the shared meanings of given communities’ (Isaac 2003: 58 quoted in Hawkesworth 2005: 149). This way of understanding power draws attention to its more subtle aspects—the role of symbolic, normative, and rule-based conventions in shaping the gendered deployment and advantage of p. 180power. Hawkesworth (2005: 149–50) gives the example of a nation being symbolized as a woman, with men exhorted to defend ‘her’, thus casting the norms of citizenship and political agency in a masculinized frame. Sjoberg (2017: 334–6) comments on the gendered power hierarchy that results from this way of thinking, in which masculinity and masculinization is valorized, while femininity and feminization denotes subordination, docility, and weakness. This gender analysis has resonance in European integration theory, and especially for constructivist interpretations of the integration process. Kronsell (2016a), for example, reveals the multiple persona of masculinities (e.g. ‘combat’ and ‘protector’ masculinities) evident in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. Prügl (2012) points to European ‘economic masculinity’ in the form of neo-liberal capitalism surviving the economic crisis through co-opting women and prudent ‘economic femininity’.

Nonetheless, Ahrens (2017), in taking up a point made by Bieling and Diez (2016: 290–1), suggests that feminist scholars need to intensify theory-building on how gender is constructed through the European integration process. One underdeveloped aspect of this analysis is the question of what actors possess ideational power (i.e. power through ideas) that leads to the formation of discourse coalitions and the creation of new (or reproduction of old) hegemonic ideas (Carstensen and Schmidt 2016). By ideational power is meant ‘the capacity of actors (whether individual or collective) to influence other actors’ normative and cognitive beliefs through the use of ideational elements’ (Carstensen and Schmidt 2016: 320). Bringing the notion of ideational power into a feminist reading of European integration adds weight to the gendered relationality of informal and formal institutional contexts in which EU decision-making takes place (Cavaghan 2013, 2017b; Kronsell 2005).

Indeed, it is this reflexive understanding of gender and power that feminist research on the EU seeks to bring out, in the context of multiple institutions fitting together in the ‘complicated ecology of interconnected rules’ (March and Olsen 1989: 170) that is the European Union. Using ideational power as an analytical tool facilitates unpacking of the gendered meanings embedded in the discourses that in turn shape a gendered hierarchy. This perspective uncovers ‘the ways in which gender norms are reproduced and gendered power dynamics are maintained within EU structures’ (Haastrup and Kenny 2016: 206). Thus, the feminist discursive approach to integration stems from the premise that gender relations are not fixed, power is not stable, and gender power is open to continual negotiation.

In this theoretical vein, the concept of gender hierarchy, with its three components—gender hierarchies, gendered hierarchies, and gendered hierarchy—posited by Sjoberg (2012, 2016, 2017) in the context of international relations, offers a promising contribution to understanding the reproduction and maintenance of gender norms and relations with respect to European integration. Sjoberg (2017: 331) elaborates on the distinction between them as follows:

Gender hierarchies are hierarchies based on direct association with gender-based characteristics, traits, or expectations. Gendered hierarchies are hierarchies primarily based on something other than gender but presented and framed in gender terms. Gendered hierarchy is the role gender plays in the existence of hierarchical relations in global politics.

p. 181These categories of gender hierarchy relate closely to Hawkesworth’s three gendered aspects of power, with the voluntary ‘abstract masculinity’ form mapping onto gender hierarchies, structural power having resonance with gendered hierarchies, and symbolic power reflecting the notion of a gendered hierarchy. Shifting the gaze to policy-making brings insight on gender mainstreaming as a process (Cavaghan 2017a, 2017b) along with the contestation and resistance to change that it seeks to bring about (Mergeart and Lombardo 2017). Blended with the insights of gender hierarchy and power, the elements hold the promise of grand theory-building on gender as a constitutive element of European integration. Integral to this agenda is the interaction of power, gender, and outcomes. In the meantime, feminist scholars are moving to challenge the assumptions underlying the main theoretical schools of integration, as we will see.

Theories of European Integration and Feminist Responses

Although extensive scholarly effort has been expended on theorizing European integration, and a growing body of literature on gender and the integration process, these strands of research seldom refer to one another (Abels and MacRae 2016a: 2; Kronsell 2016b: 104). Yet, feminist scholars are developing an engagement with mainstream integration theories, offering critical reflections on the drivers of European integration embedded in the ‘grand’ theories, and on the gender power dynamic hidden in the theoretical assumptions of the dominant ‘malestream’ viewpoints.

A gender approach to European integration theory and practice explicitly declares gender a main organizing element of social relations, and seeks to reveal the power dynamic inherent in each of the theoretical groups. For feminist scholars, it is power that structures gender relations, revealing gender-based differences in roles, opportunities, and positions and a gender hierarchy ordering of the socio-political world (as discussed earlier). As Kronsell (2005: 1036) notes, ‘(T)he strength of a feminist viewpoint is its understanding of how hierarchies of gender power are expressed in embedded institutions.’ With this discussion of gender hierarchy in mind, the next sections address the three main theoretical strands of research on European integration and discuss feminist responses to them.

Liberal Intergovernmentalism

Liberal intergovernmentalism allocates to the EU the role of an intergovernmental forum, where state governments agree on ways of pooling their sovereignty so as to solve common problems, with the EU institutions delegated to address these issues on their behalf (Eriksen and Fossum 2009: 16–22). It is closely linked with the concept of supranational joint decision-making (see Pollack, Chapter 6 of this volume), including the idea of member states sharing common goals, setting basic rules and procedures, and generally states basing their positions on self-interest. National preferences in respect of European integration are shaped in the first instance by the interests p. 182of powerful players in the domestic arena, resulting in the dominance of economic interests. Furthermore, it is the interests of the most powerful national players that determine the integration agenda. They bargain with smaller or economically weaker states to secure support, in exchange for concessions on other issues (Moravcsik and Schimmelfenning, Chapter 4 of this volume). This is the basic idea—states are the primary actors, they seek to advance their interests (usually economic) in a rational actor manner, and they negotiate multilateral agreements as a methodology for resolving competing interest claims. Supranational institutions—in particular the European Commission and European Court of Justice—function to enable interstate bargaining and deliver the agreed interstate commitments (see Chapter 4 in this volume).

In this integration theory, gender interests find limited purchase in the supranational arena. Gender claims for equality are difficult to make in this setting, as the legitimacy for intergovernmental negotiation resides with the individual states. A clear example of this was obvious in the pre-legislative negotiating period on the Goods and Services Directive,1 when states successfully removed educational systems from the remit of services, arguing that education was a national competence. Thus, the redistribution of the collective good of education was excluded from the negotiations, remaining firmly in member state domestic control (Galligan and Clavero 2015: 27). According to Connell, states represent the dominant interests in a society, and these interests are ‘embodied in the hegemonic masculinity of state institutions’ (Connell 1995, cited in Kronsell 2005: 1025). Although feminist analysis has problematized the relationship between the concepts of ‘gender’ and ‘state’, liberal intergovernmentalism does not incorporate a feminist critique of what constitutes state interests. As Kronsell (2005: 1025) points out: ‘liberal intergovernmentalist theory reproduces existing gender relations in the intergovernmental negotiations where “states’ interests” are articulated.’

Thus, in its conception of the state, liberal intergovermentalism conceives of the state as a unitary actor, without reflecting on the gendered nature of interest formation informing state preferences. It would be helpful, then, for liberal intergovernmentalism to be sensitive to the gender regime (Walby 2004) informing domestic preference formation to explain why some states are more gender-‘friendly’ than others in an EU context. In the Council of Ministers, for example, the gender balance of state representatives varies according to policy configuration: in 2017, the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) comprised three women state representatives (11 per cent) while the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council was attended by twenty-two female state representatives (39 per cent). As well as reflecting the gendered nature of ministerial portfolio distribution in EU member states, the gender distribution of participants, feminists would argue, influences the content of the discussion (Rolandsen Agustín 2013).

Van der Vleuten (2016: 89–91) draws attention to the limits of intergovernmental theory in explaining the adoption of Article 119 on equal pay in the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Thus, from a feminist point of view, liberal intergovernmentalism’s focus on state-centric cost-benefit analysis of economic issues and rational actor behaviour cannot satisfactorily explain why states would approve of binding supranational commitments (such as gender mainstreaming) and norms (gender equality) that produce p. 183domestic political resistance, along with institutional and economic costs (Van der Vleuten 2016: 92). Nonetheless, the EU is an important forum for the realization of women’s, and gender, rights. While it is particularly associated with equality and non-discrimination measures in employment and economic equality, of late the EU remit has expanded to include fields in which it was not traditionally endowed with formal competence—gender-based violence being an example.2 The conditional and varied collective commitment to gender equality among member states, however, tempers the extent to which gender equality is perceived as an evenly distributed integrative process (Kantola 2010).

However, a modified version of liberal intergovermentalism that takes domestic social relations as the starting point could provide a way forward for this theory. As Van der Vleuten (2016: 94) points out, examining the multi-levelled formation of interests on specific issues (such as gender equality), their impact on state preferences, and their presentation in intergovernmental and trans governmental institutions, offers a route whereby ideational politics can be integrated into rational actor explanations of European integration. Indeed, the functional distribution of Council configurations across ten policy fields suggests that state preferences are not solely confined to economic interests. Kronsell (2005) points out that there are some examples, such as in the Scandinavian states, where gender interests can inform the national interest, due to the close relationship between women and the state. Furthermore, Galligan and Clavero (2015: 29) demonstrate that in the negotiations on the Goods and Services directive, ‘women-friendly’ states took positions in the European Council that supported a maximalist interpretation of gender equality, and differed from the positions of states with less developed domestic records for addressing gender differences. In this era of geopolitical tensions on the borders of Europe, the challenge of reversing the integration process posed by the UK, and a new integrationist agenda, the state and state actors will continue to be highly relevant players in European integration. All the more reason for liberal intergovernmentalism to look beyond the parsimonious concept of the state and embrace issue-specific ‘constellations’ of actors that permit analysis of how gender power relations in domestic and supranational institutions play out in integration events.


Neofunctionalism, the other foundational theory of European integration, takes a contrasting view of integration. The theory rests on three main pillars—elite socialization to accept a degree of supranational governance of domestic affairs (i.e. transfer of loyalty), recognition that supranational institutions have an important role to play in the European integration process, and integration in one field encourages integration in other areas of governance, resulting in a ‘spillover’ effect that continues the integration process (Niemann, Lefkofridi, and Schmitter, Chapter 3 of this volume). Thus, while intergovernmentalism presents a rational actor state-centric view, neofunctionalism holds that, along with states, supranational institutions have the power and capacity to shape the integration process, as do transnational non-state interests p. 184(MacRae 2016: 59–60). The early neofunctional theorists, especially Haas (1958, 1970) and Lindberg (1963), devised the template for neofunctionalist theory of integration that has remained substantially in place. They understood neofunctionalism as a process, an evolution of integrationist patterns over time, engaging multiple and changing actors, with governmental elites driving the process (see Chapter 3 in this volume). Later theorists such as Schmitter (2004) and Niemann (2006a) have refined the theory, adding complexity and nuance as they reflect on the uneven integration process over time and across the region (see also Schmitter and Niemann 2009).

Similar to intergovernmentalism, neofunctionalism prioritizes the study of economic politics. As Hoskyns (2003: 225) noted, it privileges bureaucratic, even technocratic, understandings of policy-making, thus setting apart the social dimension from the economic and political aspects of integration. Kronsell (2005: 1028), among others, observes that while non-state actors are included in neofunctionalist integration theory, there is an absence of recognition that some groups dominate the policy-making process, while the views of other transnational groups such as the European Women’s Lobby (EWL)3 and other equality-promoting organizations cannot compete with economic interests in the pluralist European interest environment (Rolandsen Agustín 2008). Nor, indeed, does neofunctionalism and its derivative supranationalism evolve a theory of power, thus missing the possibility of being open to a gendered analysis of European integration (MacRae 2016: 69, 71). Nonetheless, it has sufficient analytical flexibility to enable feminist researchers to use it as a platform for developing other approaches deriving from its three main points—elite socialization, supranationalism, and spillover—that accommodate a gender perspective (e.g. Hoskyns 1996; MacRae 2006; Galligan and Clavero 2007; Locher 2012).

Despite its technocratic tendency, neofunctionalist theory has led to a rich cascade of gender-neutral and feminist work on multilevel governance (e.g. Hooghe and Marks 2001; Beveridge and Velluti 2008; Abels 2016), Europeanization (e.g. Börzel and Risse 2003; Liebert 2003, 2016; Woodward 2003; Krizsan, Skjeie, and Squires 2012), and more recently social constructivism (e.g. Risse 2004b; Hoskyns 2003; Lombardo and Meier 2008; Schmidt 2010; Rolandsen Agustín 2013; Lombardo 2016). These neofunctionalist-derived analyses have developed and expanded insights into the gendered dynamics of integration. They have also brought in power relationships, missing from the earlier foundational neofunctionalist theory. These approaches employ the concepts of networks of interconnecting issues and fragmented authority (among other aspects) to explain the delivery of integration. These analyses can explore how transnational organizations of varying power and influence engage with European institutions, often bypassing the national government, in shaping EU-level sectoral policy agendas. They describe and analyse civil society actors’ behaviour in circumventing the resistance of the nation state to draw on the supranational level as an alternative legitimate authority—political and legal—in which to press their equality claims (Walby 2004: 20; Alter and Vargas 2000; Van der Vleuten 2005).

Yet, this theoretical school obscures other gendered power hierarchies. In the first instance, the relative power of transnational women’s and feminist organizations in relation to other transnational interests is not interrogated. Indeed, feminist research p. 185shows how economic-oriented interests organized on a pan-EU basis (such as trade union, corporate, and employer interests) are accorded more influence and power within EU negotiating networks than are gender-sensitive transnational civil society groups (Smith and Villa 2010). Related to this point, other scholars draw attention to the growing marketization of gender equality at member state level and the shifting of the gender equality norm to serve an instrumentalist economic agenda in the EU and member states (Stratigaki 2004; Hubert 2012; Kantola and Squires 2012; Elomäki 2015).

Secondly, fragmented authority arrangements are not immune to hierarchies of gender power—male-centric and male-dominated organizations, institutions, and sectoral collective bodies can deliberately or unconsciously exclude gender actors and gender-sensitive points of view from their deliberations. Thus, the networks characteristic of neofunctionalism and its variants (such as multilevel governance) are not guaranteed to be inclusive of gender issues and representatives. Furthermore, multilevel governance and neofunctional sectoral arrangements can create gender power hierarchies that act to include some gender concerns while excluding others. Through the use of hegemonic gender discourses, neofunctionalism empowers some (experts, bureaucrats) at the expense of others (civil society representatives), thereby inscribing the exclusion of diverse gender concerns from the elite-agreed agenda (Weiner and MacRae 2014). In this respect, networking across national boundaries, identities, and cultures is a challenge for women in the European public sphere (Woodward 2003; Siim and Mokre 2013; Rolandsen Agustín 2013; Cullen 2016).

Social Constructivism

Social constructivist approaches form a third paradigm in which to consider European integration. Influenced by international relations theory, they are a highly diverse group of approaches that have in common that ‘social reality is constructed and reproduced through permanent interaction between social agents’ (Saurugger 2014: 146; Risse 2003: 160). Indeed, Scott’s (1986) helpful insights (as discussed) into gender as a constitutive element of social relationships, and as a primary way of signifying power relationships, were an early forerunner of the constructivist approach.

Constructivism bases analysis of a phenomenon, such as European integration, on three core ideas—one is that context matters: individuals are social agents, embedded in social structures that frame their behaviour and may lead them to act against their rational self-interest. Furthermore, reality at any one time and in any one place is shaped by ideational factors (e.g. liberalism, conservatism, radicalism) which have a normative power as well as an instrumental influence. A second key idea is that social agents and structures are co-constituted (i.e. they are mutually constitutive of one another), shaping behaviour and outcomes. This co-constitution creates the social norms that frame collective behaviour. These norms are redefined and reconstituted through the permanent interaction of agents and structures. Nor are they uniform across society, as different norm frameworks can be found in different societal structures. The third core idea of constructivism is that actor interests are shaped by social, political, and economic contexts at any point in time. Thus, the interests p. 186of social agents can alter as their understanding of the environment in which they are in (be it local, national, or global) changes (Saurugger 2014: 147; Risse 2003: 161; Risse, Chapter 3 of this volume). Discourse is the thread linking each of these core ideas, and constructivists place considerable weight on the importance of discourse in understanding societal change (see also Wodak, Chapter 8 of this volume). Thus, explaining and conceptualizing the process of European integration is the focus of constructivist approaches.

Constructivist approaches to European integration take three forms: firstly, as a socialization and learning process—which helps with understanding how the creation of norms at EU level leads to norm compliance in a national context. In this, it bears some resemblance to the neofunctionalist core ideas of elite socialization and spillover. However, it offers a more dynamic view of the socializing role of European Union politics as it accords social agents an equally active role in the process of norm-making and the collective interpretation of rules and policies. The Open Method of Coordination mode of European governance, for example, is often cited by constructivists as a framework for socialization and learning among decision-makers and non-state actors, with gender mainstreaming, ‘flexicurity’ (the combination of flexibility and security in welfare programmes), and ‘labour market activation’ policies among some of the areas evidencing this constructivist perspective (Beveridge and Velluti 2008; Saurugger 2014: 152–3).

A second strand of constructivism relates to the social construction of a common European identity (Fierke and Wiener 1999; Checkel and Katzenstein 2009; Risse 2010; Lehning 2001; Wiener 1998). Again, this is close to the neofunctionalist concept of the emergence of a European identity through the integration process. For constructivists, though, the European and national identities are not mutually exclusive—more, they are intertwined, overlapping, and coexisting. Indeed, as identity is constructed in a specific time and place, the tensions between identities can be explored, and the challenge this creates for the legitimacy of the EU as a political system can be understood. Thus, constructivism can accommodate the study of Euroscepticism. It can also assist our understanding of the multilevel challenges of creating shared norms and practices around specific integration-led policies in conflictual contexts, such the migration crisis (Mushaben 2012).

A third approach focuses on ideas, and how ideas frame interests and shape outcomes. More precisely, this approach focuses on ‘the carriers of ideas and norms, and […] the influence of their power relations on policy outcomes’ (Saurugger 2014: 158). This recent branch of constructivist thinking places discourse at its centre, and focuses on decision-making as a communicative process, through which ideas are generated, discussed, reframed, and adopted (or not) in a given institutional context (Kulawik 2009; Schmidt 2010). Importantly, too, the concept of power is brought back into the analysis, in a discursive form (in communications, symbols, and texts) and through institutional practices (procedures and behaviour) (Kronsell 2005: 1035). The recognition in constructivist theory that power is an inherent element in European integration enables a critical feminist view to be brought to bear on the theory and process of integration.

p. 187Fundamentally, feminist social constructivists take issue with the assumption of gender neutrality, and the downplaying of gender power relations inherent in both liberal intergovermentalism and neofunctionalism. Focusing on the gendered dynamics of institutional power—including, but not exclusive to, bureaucratic power replace with closed em rule feminist constructivism can provide analytical insights into the (re)production, resistance, continuity, and change in the co-constitution of gendered politics (Kronsell 2016b; Lombardo 2016).

In this analytical context, the construction of gender as a process assumes importance. Teasing out this idea further, Cavaghan (2017a: 60) argues that examining ‘processes constituting collectively held assumptions regarding gender and its ir/relevance’ facilitates an understanding of the link between rhetorical commitment and policy action. In the course of analysing the rhetorical commitment to mainstreaming gender by the European Commission, the features of challenge, contestation, and resistance emerge as important aspects that determine the extent to which gender is an integral part of the process (Cavaghan 2017b). This line of thinking, grounded in empirical investigation of policy construction and implementation, highlights the idea that resistance to gender equality can be discursively expressed through ‘indifference to and non-awareness of gendered policy problems’ (Cavaghan 2017a: 42), as well as through more direct strategies such as a refusal to recognize gender (for a discussion of contestation in international relations theory, see Wiener 2014). In developing a typology of resistance to gender mainstreaming, Mergeart and Lombardo (2017) illustrate the numerous instances of resistance to gender change that act to preserve the status quo. These gendered institutionalized resistances, they argue, emerge because gender equality and its policy manifestation as gender mainstreaming challenges the norms, assumptions, and practices regarding male–female relations (Lombardo and Mergeart 2013: 299). These customary beliefs and practices are reinforced by the wider institution—the EU—that acts to systematically reinscribe male-gender privilege while paying rhetorical service to gender equality. For these authors, and in a similar vein to Cavaghan, institutional resistance occurs when institutions systematically overlook gender claims, and pursue a practice of active non-engagement with gender inequality. They develop a typology of resistances that ‘makes opposition to gender change more visible, and helps to shed light on the “invisibility of gender” in institutional cultures and processes’ (Mergeart and Lombardo 2017). While other research (e.g. Chappell 2006; Waylen 2009) also focuses on bureaucratic resistance to implementing gender equality, Mergeart and Lombardo’s study additionally addresses the nature of such resistance through looking at the formal and informal aspects of gender power. Furthermore, and relevant to this research, the approach highlights the gendered positions of institutions, actors, and discourses (as informal institutions) in relation to one another as they shape, constitute, and reconstitute each other in a reflexive understanding of the political environment (Kulawik 2009: 267). Ultimately, feminist social constructivism enables us to analyse European integration as a socially created gender order, for as Kronsell (2012: 39 quoted in Lombardo 2016: 133) reminds us: ‘Social orders, like gender orders, have distributive effects, p. 188privilege certain groups over others, and are all connected to the practice of power, working both discursively and institutionally.’

Applying these reflections to the study of the economic crisis enables one to extract the different dimensions of gender power hierarchies and through this reveal the gendered nature of European integration processes. As Cullen (2016: 413) observes, ‘economic crises and austerity are [also] argued to be a critical juncture for gender and social regimes as political responses to economic recession reveal the fragility and thinness of commitments at the EU level and across European societies to gender equality.’

Key Points

Liberal intergovernmentalist theory based on a rational actor state-centric view is resistant to the inclusion of a gendered critique of what constitutes state interests. It reproduces existing gender relations without reflecting on the gendered nature of interest formation.

The theory could be modified to include a gender-aware aspect if states’ domestic social relations were taken into account when analysing European decision-making.

Liberal intergovernmentalism could integrate a gender view if it were to embrace issue-specific ‘constellations’ of actors that permit analysis of how gender power relations in domestic and supranational institutions play out in integration events.

Neofunctionalist theory conceives of European integration as a process engaging multiple and changing actors, driven by governmental elites.

Feminist critics have observed that neofunctionalism privileges bureaucratic understandings of policy-making, setting apart the social dimension from the economic and political aspects of integration.

Neofunctionalism has sufficient flexibility to enable a gender theory reading of its three main components—elite socialization, supranationalism, and spillover

These analyses explore how transnational organizations of varying power and influence engage with European institutions, often bypassing the national government, in shaping EU-level sectoral policy agendas.

Nonetheless, the theory can occlude the systematic operation of gendered power hierarchies, privileging elite and expert voices at the expense of civil society.

Social constructivist theories of European integration are based on three core ideas—context matters; social agents and structures are co-constituted; actor interests are shaped by context at a given point in time.

Feminist social constructivists, drawing on gender theory, focus on the gendered dynamics of institutional power. This approach provides analytical insights into the (re)production, resistance, continuity, and change in the co-constitution of gendered politics.

Looking at the formal and informal resistances to gender equality makes opposition to gender change more visible, and draws attention to the challenges faced in changing the gendered status quo.

p. 189The European Economic Crisis and Gender

In 2007, European Union economies seemed to be stable. Inflation was at a low of 2 per cent, unemployment was at its lowest level (6.8 per cent), and economic growth was positive, at 2.7 per cent overall and 2.4 per cent in the eurozone states (European Commission 2007). By 2009, the story was a very different one. The European Union was in the throes of a deep recession, with European economies shrinking by 4 per cent and an unemployment rate of 9.4 per cent (European Commission 2009). Five eurozone member states (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Cyprus) were unable to repay their government debt, or bail out over-indebted banks under their supervision, without the assistance of other eurozone countries (notably Germany), the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

One response to the crisis, and the economic recession it generated, was to introduce tighter regulation of the finances of indebted countries by means of the 2012 Fiscal Compact. This new economic integration agenda sought to implement a common process of economic and monetary governance, with clear rules on balanced national budgets, the obligation to transpose the agreed European budgetary rules into national law, and a strict framework for dealing with eurozone member states who breach deficit rules (European Central Bank 2012). The crisis thus generated a response which intensified economic integration and reinforced the upscaling of economic decision-making from individual governments to the intergovernmental level.

An increasing focus on a neo-liberal economic agenda from the mid 2000s, long before the financial crisis, set the scene for this intensification (Hermann 2007). The 2000 Lisbon Agenda set in place a ten-year high-level economic strategy for the Union ‘to become the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’ (European Council 2000, para. 5). This hegemonic norm of growth as ‘good’ and competitiveness as ‘prosperity’ held gendered implications (Wöhl 2016: 245–7). Norms of masculinity pervaded economic knowledge and behaviour: the female gender was to conform by accessing ‘flexicurity’—welfarist policies involving retraining for work, responding to ‘labour market activation’ policies, and availing of a care (specifically childcare) strategy intended to support their (re)entry into the labour force. These social initiatives were intended to facilitate growth and competitiveness, and further enhance the neo-liberal economic agenda.

With this shift, predating the recession, the EU stepped back from attaching importance to gender equality as a policy goal in its own right, shaping it instead to serve an economic agenda. Drawing on Karamessini and Rubery (2013), Cullen (2016: 414) makes the point that this trend deepened during the economic crisis. By 2010, the negative impact of the crisis on economic and social policies supporting gender equality (e.g. availability of childcare, care benefits for children, and services for those suffering domestic violence) was evident, as countries cut or restructured spending on social services (European Economic and Social Committee 2012). In addition, countries’ fiscal consolidation policies relied on expenditure cuts. Wage reductions and staffing freezes in public sector employment including in health services, reductions in pension benefits, and restrictions p. 190on eligibility for social assistance were implemented in European countries without reference to their gendered consequences (Bettio, Corsi, D’Ippoliti, et al. 2013: 126–8; Pèrivier 2018).

In addition to the gendered material effect of the economic crisis and ensuing imposition of fiscal austerity, the case highlights the role masculinized economic knowledge played in supporting the discourse around economic decision-making. This had the consequence of sidelining feminist perspectives, of gender mainstreaming as a policy tool being ignored or deemed irrelevant, and the gap in expertise on fiscal issues among feminist civil society organizations exposed. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) campaigned to oppose the reduction of funding for gender equality and critiqued the absence of a gender analysis of the financial crisis. However, despite its own rhetoric, inhouse economic knowledge and policy expertise was absent from the EWL analytical armoury (Cullen 2016: 418–19). The organization was thus unable to bring a gender perspective to the detail and technicalities of economic decision-making at European and national levels, even though encouraged to do so by sympathetic actors in the Commission and European Parliament.

However, there were other voices with this knowledge who advocated a gender mainstreaming of the solutions to the crisis. The Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men observed that ‘in the urgency of the crisis, it appears that, to date, little attention has been given to ensuring that gender is taken into account when formulating policy responses’ (European Commission and Advisory Committee … 2009: 5). It went on to recommend that ‘a gender perspective is incorporated in the policy responses to the crisis and that gender equality policies remain visible despite the effects of the economic recession’ (2009: 6). The Advisory Committee’s opinion highlighted the dearth of gender-based perspectives in European Union discourse on the crisis and solutions, and challenged the masculinist assumptions and bias embedded in the response strategies.

Although there was some subsequent acknowledgement by the Council of the European Union (2009: 3) of the impact of the crisis on gender equality policies and the need for gender mainstreaming to be more consistently applied across all policy areas, this was a short-lived moment of awareness. In drafting a new high-level economic strategy, Europe 2020, a male-gendered analysis was repeated, with a focus on addressing young male unemployment. Yet, Eurostat (2017) statistics show that under-employment (or involuntary part-time employment) in the countries most deeply affected by the euro crisis had as severe an effect on women’s job opportunities as those of men. The absence of gender mainstreaming, and of a discussion of the gendered effects of austerity in primary policy documents addressing the fiscal crisis, even in a context where the problem of male unemployment is made explicit, shows how the economic norms and discourse were underpinned by masculinist understandings (Galligan 2017). This is a classic case of ‘unintended consequences’ for gender equality, as, in the absence of gender mainstreaming, neo-liberal economic policies produced new gender inequalities while perpetuating old patterns of gender domination (MacRae 2013). Commenting on the gendered effects of such governance responses to the economic crisis, Wöhl (2016: 247) observes: ‘This shows that state and supra-national policies only consider interests specifically affecting women insofar as they are compatible within neo-liberal competitiveness.’ This comment is compatible with p. 191a liberal intergovernmentalist interpretation of the economic crisis. Yet, a gender-theory reading of the crisis would suggest that these government responses are manifestations of the gender hierarchy, as elucidated by Sjoberg (2017), which act to preserve the gender status quo. In particular, an association with gender-based characteristics is the immediate gender prism through which the uneven gendered effects of the crisis can be seen. Yet, also evident is the process by which the norm of gender equality fell out of consideration, to be replaced by a male-gendered ideational discourse that relegated female-gendered policies (childcare, for example) to a subsidiary role, while also re-privatizing gender equality through the reduction or removal of services supporting women. Last, but not least, the economic crisis illustrates the contingent condition of gender equality, the triumph of resistance over accommodation, and the power imbalances between the weak institutional advocates for gender equality, on the one hand, and the strong institutional actors who choose to ignore the gendered effects of the crisis, on the other. Following Cavaghan, while the rhetorical commitment to gender equality remained accepted as a norm in European Union politics, the link was broken between the normative claim and the policy reality during the crisis.

Key Points

The effect of the European economic crisis (2009–16) was to intensify economic integration and move more economic decision-making from individual governments to the intergovernmental level.

European economic policy had a deeply embedded gender imprint before the crisis. European social initiatives such as ‘flexicurity’ and ‘labour market activation’ were directed to mobilizing women into the workforce so as to facilitate growth and competitiveness and further enhance the neo-liberal economic agenda.

Gender equality as a policy goal in its own right was reshaped to serve an economic agenda prior to the European crisis.

The articulation of a gender-sensitive analysis of the crisis, along with the statistical demonstration of the gendered effects on employment, was not taken into account in the development of the Europe 2020 policy.

In the absence of gender mainstreaming, neo-liberal economic policies produced new gender inequalities while perpetuating old patterns of gender domination.

The economic crisis illustrates the contingent condition of gender equality, the triumph of resistance over accommodation, and the power imbalances between institutional advocates for gender equality, on the one hand, and institutional actors who chose to ignore the gendered effects of the crisis, on the other.


How can the economic crisis, and the accompanying European responses, as outlined earlier, inform a gendered view of European integration theory? First, the general narrative on the economic and monetary crisis focuses on the diverse governmental nature p. 192of the response, and the challenges in developing a united European policy to tackle the problem. In this frame, the gendered effects of the crisis were subsumed, receiving little attention in the immediate context. Thus, the rationalist liberal intergovernmentalism theory, which can explain the adoption of the new fiscal governance rules—the Fiscal Compact and its associated surveillance tool, the European Semester—does not explain the exclusion of gender equality norms and practices in intergovernmental bargaining leading to this new economic governance model. Feminist scholar Anna van der Vleuten, who brings gender theory to bear on intergovernmentalism, points to the limits a state-centric approach can offer to developing a gender perspective to integration (van der Vleuten 2016: 94). However, that is not to give up completely on the liberal intergovernmentalist approach, which offers important tools to explain agenda setting at supranational level, and the positioning of member states on gender equality issues. Liberal intergovernmentalism deals explicitly with the concept of power, and power relations between states, which is important for understanding the integration of, and resistances to, gender norms and practices in institutional settings. Gender-sensitive analysis also raises issues of power and gender power relations. A gender-sensitive liberal intergovernmentalism can begin to ask pertinent questions about which interests national governments represent, how those interests are shaped by gender, and how the link between gender and interests plays out in the bargaining that takes place at supranational level.

Second, while gender is a subsidiary point of analytical interest for liberal intergovernmentalism, a neofunctionalist theory of integration provides a more productive framework for consideration of gender in analysis of the fiscal crisis (Liebert 2016; Wöhl 2016). Neofunctionalism, and its derivatives—multilevel governance, Europeanization, and governmentality—focus on bureaucracy and process. This framework provides more opportunity to interrogate the fiscal crisis from a gender point of view, as process is emphasized in this theory. Liebert (2016), for example, successfully illustrates that the Fiscal Compact rules are gender-blind. As a grand theory, derivatives of neofunctionalism will continue to provide insights into the fragmented and unevenly distributed adoption of a gender equality lens on EU policy-making. Furthermore, this theory also allows for identification of anomalies in EU policy-making, such as the absence of gender mainstreaming practices from the formulation and implementation of the economic and fiscal policies driving wealth generation. Thus, there is a very productive relationship to be had, in both policy and analytical spheres, in bringing this theory on European integration into conversation with the work of gender scholars.

Third, constructivist approaches offer new ways of integrating gender into theorization on European integration. The contribution of feminist political economists such as presented by Elomäki (2015) and Cavaghan (2013, 2017a, 2017b), and the social constructivist study of resistance by Mergeart and Lombardo (2017) and others, offers a fruitful path of reflection on the study of European integration. Of the three ‘grand’ approaches, social constructivism holds the most critical capacity, as it reflects on the ideational norms of the European Union, the situation of gender equality among these norms, and the resistances to embedding the gender equality norm in policy and practice. This strand of research opens a space for the discussion of deeper issues of p. 193democratic legitimacy in a multi-member, multi-governance polity. It has the capacity to analyse interests, institutions, and cognitive ideational frames as constituents of integration. Mainstream and gender scholars of European integration speak the same language in this theoretical approach, and a greater engagement with one another’s work would enrich theorization of how masculinities and femininities are constructed, reproduced, and sustained in the European integration process.

Finally, it must be borne in mind that ‘the main objective of theoretical approaches is to try to answer general questions with regard to developments in European integration and to structure its empirical analysis’ (Saurugger 2014: 254). In that quest, the systematic explanation of the position and standing of gender in European integration requires the top-down theory of liberal intergovernmentalism to understand the politics of gender relations and gender power at the supranational level; the detailed nature of gender power dynamics (and gender mainstreaming) in policy spheres as offered by neofunctionalist views, and the bottom-up mainstreaming approach framed in the contestation of ideas and discourse that the constructivist view provides. Whichever lens or theory is used to examine integration, the case of gender is one that highlights a different set of dynamics with respect to group-institutional power interplays than is revealed in a gender-neutral analysis. The dominant theories of European integration would gain much in empirical and theoretical development from engaging with a gender perspective.

Study Questions


What is gender?


What contribution can gender theory bring to the study of European integration?


What more could one add to gender-informed assessments of European integration theories?


What can a gender theory reading of the financial crisis contribute to understanding the asymmetrical gender power relations embedded in European integration?

Discussion Questions


Is the normative position of gender equality sufficiently embedded in the European integration process?


In what ways can a gender approach to European integration reveal hidden aspects of a) liberal intergovernmentalism, b) neofunctionalism, and c) constructivism?


How effective is gender mainstreaming as a tool in delivering gender equality as an integrative principle?


In what ways does a gender viewpoint contribute to an understanding of the economic crisis and European responses?


What scope is there for gender scholarship to develop a theory of European integration?

p. 194Guide to Further Reading

Abels, G. and Macrae, H. (eds) (2016) Gendering European Integration Theory: Engaging New Dialogues (Opladen/Berlin/Toronto: Barbara Budrich Publishers).Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This collection advances the theorizing of gender and European integration through critical feminist reflections on established and new integration theories.

Cavaghan, R. (2017) Making Gender Equality Happen: Knowledge, Change and Resistance in EU Gender Mainstreaming (Abingdon: Routledge).Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This text examines gender mainstreaming and how it works, exploring the complexity and fluidity involved in renegotiating gendered assumptions in policy.

Hoskyns, C. (1996) Integrating Gender: Women, Law and Politics in the European Union (London: Verso).Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This classic text traces the development of the EU’s gender equality policy. It gives a central role to women’s political agency.

Kronsell, A. (2005) ‘Gender, Power and European Integration Theory’, Journal of European Public Policy 12(6): 1022–40.Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This is a foundational feminist critique of European integration theories, and places power at the centre of analysis.

Macrae, H. and Weiner, E. (eds) (2017) Towards Gendering Institutionalism: Equality in Europe (London: Rowman & Littlefield).Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This text develops gender theory in European integration studies through an excellent overview chapter and detailed policy cases.

Prügl, E. (2012) ‘ “If Lehman Brothers Had Been Lehman Sisters …”: Gender and Myth in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis’, International Political Sociology 6: 21–35.Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This article critiques the gendered meaning-making of the crisis.

Sjoberg, L. (2017) ‘The Invisible Structures of Anarchy: Gender, Orders and Global Politics’, Journal of International Political Theory 13(3): 325–40.Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

This article discusses the concept of gender hierarchy in global politics. It provides a helpful analytical framework for interrogating European integration processes and practices in a manner that can contribute to gender-sensitive theory-building.


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