Using intersectionality to understand structural inequality in Scotland: evidence synthesis

An evidence synthesis of literature on the concept of intersectionality. Looks at what the concept means, and how it can be applied to policymaking and analysis, as well as providing spotlight examples.

2. Purpose

This report presents a synthesis of available literature on the concept and applications of intersectionality. It is intended as a resource to build the knowledge and expertise among public sector analysts and policymakers required to analyse, report and use equality data to develop effective services for those with intersecting protected characteristics.

The four primary aims of this report are to contribute to understanding of:

  • What intersectionality means and how it can be applied to policymaking.
  • How intersectionality can be integrated throughout the analytical process.
  • Examples of how the concept of intersectionality has been used.
  • Available resources that the reader can use to further deepen understanding.

This report is not intended to be an exhaustive review of all of the available literature, but rather an overview of the common themes. Available research and examples have been selected that are most relevant to the Scottish and wider UK context to provide an illustration of how the concept of intersectionality, and the approach that follows, can be used to the benefit of services and outcomes. See Section 8 for a full list of useful resources.

The literature related to the concept of intersectionality is complex, and disagreement exists within academic communities from different disciplines and specialisations. In addition, in a public sector context it may be difficult to meet the 'gold standards' presented in the academic literature for a number of reasons. Keeping all this in mind, this report intends to set out the best options available to policymakers and analysts in the Scottish public sector, and a range of considerations will be presented to this end in Section 7.

This report is arranged in distinct standalone sections, enabling the reader to select those that would be most useful or relevant to their own work. This report will take the following structure:

  • Section 3 will highlight what is meant by the concept of intersectionality.
  • Section 4 will focus on what it means to take an intersectional approach to policymaking.
  • Section 5 provides spotlight examples to illustrate how intersectionality has been used to further understanding of structural inequality.
  • Section 6 looks at how intersectionality can be applied in public sector research and data analysis.
  • Section 7 concludes by offering a range of considerations for policymakers and analysts to take forward when utilising the concept of intersectionality in their work.
  • Section 8 provides a list of key resources to aid further research on the topic of intersectionality.
  • Section 9 is a glossary of key terms.



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