This book offers a powerful new approach to policy studies. Drawing on recent perspectives from social constructionism, discourse analysis, the sociology of social problems and feminism, Carol Bacchi develops a step-by-step analytical tool for deconstructing policy problems. Her `What's the Problem?' approach encourages students to reflect critically upon the ways in which policy problems get constructed within policy debates and policy proposals.

Introduction: Taking Problems Apart

Introduction: Taking problems apart

Have you ever read a newspaper article about a controversial topic and thought that you would have approached the issue from a completely different angle? Have you ever compared the two perspectives, yours and that of the columnist or reported speaker, and noted that the contrast in views had all sorts of consequences, including how to deal with the issue? If so, you have already been applying the approach which I will outline in this book, an approach I call ‘What's the Problem?’ – a shorthand for ‘what's the problem represented to be?’ At its most basic, the insight is commonsensical – how we perceive or think about something will affect what we think ought to be done ...

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