European Conference on Equal Opportunities - Call for papers - Equal Is Not Enough: Dealing with Opp (Equal Is Not Enough:)

Venue: Antwerp

Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Event Date/Time: Sep 12, 2006 End Date/Time: Sep 14, 2006
Abstract Submission Date: Feb 28, 2006
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European Conference on Equal Opportunities
Equal Is Not Enough - Dealing with Opportunities in a Diverse Society

12, 13-14 September 2006
Antwerp (Policy Research Centre on Equal Opportunities), Belgium

The issue

Aiming at equal opportunities at the beginning of someone’s life on the one hand, making sure everyone ends equally on the other hand. These are two politico-philosophical and policy approaches on a just society that have proven their defects. For they don’t take into account the diversity that exists within every society stemming from individual and group-based characteristics. Both dimensions, equality and diversity, are therefore important.

However, (in)equality encompasses more than merely similarities and differences between people; it is also a question of individual’s divergent means. Not just the outcome (the continuum equality-diversity) should be brought into focus, the means too (equal opportunities) should be taken into account.

Inequality of opportunities arises when people are unable to develop their individual skills, including choice skills; when they are confronted with discrimination or are living in a society where people are not or inadequately prepared to protect each other and the general interest.

Differences between individuals cease to be acceptable when they restrict some individuals, despite proportionality of effort, in attaining or consolidating a desired position.

In actual practice this isn’t always feasible:
- Women earn less than men and all the higher the post one holds, so much the bigger the difference;
- Fellow citizens of migrant origin are being given fewer chances when they present themselves on the labour market;
- Married homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals aren’t allowed to adopt children;
- Older employees experience difficulties or don’t succeed in finding a job once they’re out of work.

The challenge

With this conference, we accept the challenge of trying to grasp the notion of equal opportunities in increasingly diverse societal contexts. The expertise that the Policy Research Centre on Equal Opportunities (PRCEO) has acquired over the years shall serve as a guideline

This expertise encompasses:
- An intersectional (i.e. not limited to a single dimension of equal opportunities), integral (i.e. encompassing various domains of life) and dynamic (i.e. variable over the life course) approach to equal opportunities;
- The opportunity dimensions of gender, age, ethnicity and sexual preference;
- Various public and private life domains: education, labour market (incl. retirement phase), politics, voluntary work, the media (imaging, media behaviour), ICT (e-inclusion), healthcare, social networks (individual and in relation to social movements), family and relationship formation, socialisation and perception of identity;
- Statistics and indicators on equal opportunities and research into the subjective perception of equal opportunities.

The scope

We examine equal opportunities from different point of views: a conceptual-theoretical interpretation (to conceptualise), a qualitative empirical interpretation (to explore), a quantitative empirical interpretation (to monitor) and a policy-related interpretation (to enhance).

To conceptualise

‘Equal opportunities’ is a normatively charged umbrella term. In order to give equal opportunities a scientific basis and to pursue a good policy on equal opportunities, it’s imperative to define this concept as well as related words (emancipation, diversity, non-discrimination, solidarity, the life course and so on). Moreover the rhetoric on equal opportunities ought to be scrutinized: who speaks about equal opportunities?, in what context (when, where)?, with what purpose?, and in what manner?

To explore

Since every individual puts a different meaning on equal opportunities it is important to pay attention to the subjective perception of equal opportunities. Which mechanisms of exclusion do individuals recognize? Likewise: why do some people fail to lead an active and autonomous life, both in the social and economical sphere, despite the opportunities they have been given?

To monitor

In addition to the above-mentioned qualitative dimension, research into equal opportunities posits the use of statistics and indicators. Qualitative and quantitative research into equal opportunities draw a picture of the sort, the scope and the factors that impede or favour individuals throughout their lives.

To enhance

An equal opportunities policy aims at, as best one can, preventing or making up arrears in life. Which form do equal opportunities policies take in different countries and over time? Which conceptual (emancipation, equal opportunities and/or diversity) and strategic decisions (collective and/or individual approach, equal treatment, positive action and/or mainstreaming) do policymakers make? Where do civil society and the research community come into this?

The PRCEO takes into account all dimensions and domains that touch on equal opportunities. Subscribers to the conference are free to submit abstracts that bear upon the PRCEO’s expertise or that add something to it (a new opportunity dimension, an underexposed life domain and so forth). We give preference to contributions that incorporate the principle of intersectionality.


28 Februari 2006: deadline for the receipt of abstracts by the Programme Committee.

Abstracts should meet the following criteria:
- Name(s) and affiliation(s) of the author(s);
- Contact details of presenting author (postal address, telephone, fax and email address);
- Title of proposed presentation;
- Keywords, including the domain(s) (2 at the most) and the opportunity dimension(s) Abstract of a maximum of 200 words;
- .txt, .rtf, .doc or .swx format.

Abstracts should be sent to
Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their abstract the 15th of April at the latest.
Paper sessions will be 25 minutes long.

Contact Information

Conference website:

Policy Research Centre on Equal Opportunities (PRCEO): Prinsstraat 13 (correspondence address)
Gratiekapelstraat 12 (visiting address)
2000 Antwerp
Tel: +32 (0)3 220 42 96
Fax: +32 (0)3 220 43 82