Gesine Fuchs

2013 Strategic Litigation for Gender Equality

2013: Strategic Litigation for Gender Equality in the Workplace and Legal Opportunity Structures in four European Countries. – In: Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Re­vue Canadienne Droit et Societé 28 (2), 189 – 208.

Legal mobilization in the courts has emerged as an increasingly important social movement strategy, which complements other political strategies. This paper explores legal and institutional factors that can account for the varying levels of legal mobilization in countries with a civil law system. It examines the different legal opportunity structures (LOS) (such as judicial access and material and procedural law) and the extent to which strategic litigation has been employed by trade unions and other social actors to promote equal pay in four European countries: Switzerland, Germany, France, and Poland. While every component of LOS influences legal mobilization, legal factors and legal context alone are not sufficient to explain the observed variations. Rather, they constitute an important general framework in which other social and political factors, such as norms about gender roles, equality, and litigation, are also signifi cant. Two issues seem to be especially relevant and have emerged as a rewarding field of analysis—the role of media coverage and organizational action frames.