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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?

The importance of policy failure, by Phillip Jones

Competing and contrasting models of policy have become numerous, their differences (as Sue Goodwin has suggested) “usually focussed on distinguishing between the different relationships between knowledge and politics.” This response to Sue Goodwin’s presentation addresses the problem of explanation when policy (as content, as process, as discourse, as conflict) is deemed by policy actors to have failed. Explaining failure is proposed as a useful approach to sorting out some of the key differences between differing views of policy.

About the presenters

Dr Susan Goodwin teaches and researches in the area of policy studies in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses gender and social policy, the welfare state and welfare service provision, and community capacity building. Her experience undertaking policy analysis includes research on gender equity policy, social policy and young people, welfare-to work policies, community capacity building policies, and most recently social housing policies and the social inclusion agenda. She is an author of a number of papers and two books: Finkelstein, J. and Goodwin, S. (2005) The Sociological Bent: inside metro culture. Melbourne: Thomson and Fawcett, B., Goodwin, S., Meagher, G. and R. Phillips (2009) Social Policy for Social Change: Tackling issues in health welfare and social services. Melbourne: Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming)

Professor Phillip Jones is best known for his pioneering work on the education policies, programs and strategies of key multilateral agencies. His work on the World Bank, UNESCO, and the UN itself combines historical analysis of organisational changed and development with analysis of evolving policy frameworks and processes within the agencies. This work sheds light on prospects for global educational development in the context of poverty alleviation.

Session archive

  • Session recording MP3 (NA).
  • Presentation slides PDF (TBA MB)

References & recommended readings

  • TBA


The link to the author of this blog "Lina Markauskaite" does not appear to be working.
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