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Creating a new public policy paradigm? The “diversity committee”, the charter and the plan of the Brussels Region (2004-2006).

Alexandre Tandé
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Alexandre Tandé
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Open Panel

Abstract

By the end of the 1990s, public authorities of the Brussels Region declared their intention to tackle ethnic and racial discriminations on the labour market. However, since the mid-2000s, the main purpose seems to have changed into a promotion of “diversity”, which is a far more vague objective. We argue that combining these two objectives is not as simple as it may appear, even if they seem to be quite synonymous. Can we consider that these public authorities really modified their action during the 2000’s, by replacing the former non-discrimination paradigm by a new “diversity” one? In order to answer to this question, we will focus on the way this public policy is conceived , and more precisely, we will study how two policy instruments have been imagined and discussed between 2004 and 2006: the “diversity Charter” and the “diversity plan”. We would like to bring to light the policy-making process, by taking into account its organizational dimension. We will therefore look at one particular institution, the “diversity comitee”, and we will confront our empirical datas to a theoretical notion: the “public policy forum” [Fouilleux, 2000]. This notion is relevant to make an inventory of actors, relationships and ideas. This notion also conducts to observe the way the actors, with diverse backgrounds and interests, try to reach a compromise—or sometimes get involved in a quarrel: defining the policy instruments is not a neutral issue, but for sure a political one. In a qualitative perspective, we use semi-structured interviews to ask some of the actors, who participate to this comitee. We also analyze documents and materials, such as activity reports and private archives of the Brussels Region diversity administration.