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.
Rethinking ‘Social Problems’
The boundaries between disciplines are historical artefacts; they reflect the preoccupations of an era. Disciplines also provide jobs for professionals who have a stake in the status of their particular discipline. At least part of the debate over the meaning of ‘social problems’ reflects territorial disputes over subject matter and methodologies. In Chapter 1 we saw David Dery (1984) engaging with the sociological approach to social problems. It is to his credit that he was reading this material at all, since scholars often wander little distance from their disciplinary base. We saw also how he dismissed the sociological approach as a concern with ‘pseudo problems’, due to sociologists' unwillingness to suggest what to do about them. Given Dery's pragmatism, this ...