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Critical policy sociology : historiography, archaeology and genealogy as methods of policy analysis
journal contributionposted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by Trevor Gale
In recent times critical approaches to educational policy studies have been subject to increasing interrogation over methodological issues, often by critical policy researchers themselves. In the main, their reflexive posturings have been informed by critique which proceeds that beyond brief descriptions of research logis tics and a general commitment to the methodologies of a critical orientation, critical policy analyses offer few explicit accounts of the connections between the stories they tell about policy and the data used to tell them. As a way of addressing these silences, this paper proposes three methodological approaches within which to explore and explain matters of policy, each generating its own particular view of the (policy) issues worth looking for, where they can be found and how to look for them. Drawing on research into the production of Australian higher education policy during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the paper illustrates the characteristics of these approaches, referring to them as policy historiography, policy genealogy and policy archaeology. Without claiming absolute distinctions between their interests, the paper couples policy historiography with the substantive issues of policy at particular hegemonic moments, policy genealogy with social actors' engagement with policy, and policy archaeology with conditions that regulate policy formations.