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September 2009

Policy Analysis

Presenter: Susan Goodwin

Discussant: Phillip Jones

Time: 4:30-6:30pm, 24 September 2009 (refreshments at 4:30pm for 5:00pm start)

Venue: Room 351, Education Building (A35), The University of Sydney

Policy analysis: Analysing policy as discourse, by Susan Goodwin

A range of approaches to policy analysis suggest that policy is the result of complex negotiations and contestations that take place to a significant extent within language and discourse/s. This presentation will provide an account of the ways in which policy has come to be understood as discourse, and what this means for how (and why) policy is subjected to analysis. Nancy Fraser’s (1989) influential work on needs discourses, and Stephen Ball’s (1993) work on education policy are discussed in this account. The main aim of the presentation is to introduce the ‘What’s the Problem Represented to Be?’ tool for analysis of policy as discourse. This tool, developed by Carol Bacchi, enables analysts to focus on how problems are represented in policy and how policy subjects are constituted through problem representations. The usefulness of Bacchi’s approach is explored through examples from research on policies relating to indigenous communities, gender equity and educational inequalities. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the role of policy analysis – do we undertake policy analysis in order to solve or address problems or in order to participate in struggles over meaning?

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