Bacchi’s What’s the problem represented to be? (WPR) approach

A couple of days ago, I gave a presentation to colleagues at Derby on Bacchi’s WPR approach. If you are not familiar with this approach, it is essentially a way of analysing policies and other kinds of document and discourse in a critical and analytical way. It is based around answering six questions about the document that you are looking at.

The questions are

  1. What’s the ‘problem’ represented to be in a specific policy or policy proposal?
  1. What presuppositions or assumptions underpin this representation of the ‘problem’?
  1. How has this representation of the ‘problem’ come about?
  1. What is left unproblematic in this problem representation? Where are the silences? Can the ‘problem’ be thought about differently?
  1. What effects are produced by this representation of the ‘problem’?
  1. How/where has this representation of the ‘problem’ been produced, disseminated and defended? How has it been (or could it be) questioned, disrupted and replaced?

If you are interested in it, there is a short article by Bacchi herself that explains the basic ideas and summarises how it can be used.

You might also want to look at my presentation, which is a fairly basic take on it, but which explores how it can be used in education research.

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