Comment: The title for this entry refers to the third chapter, by Jon Yorke and Lesley Vidovich, in Learning Standards and the Assessment of Quality in Higher Education: Contested Policy Trajectories (2016: 69-87). This book appears as Volume 7 of the series: Policy Implications of Research in Education. Yorke and Vidovich develop the concept of a “policy trajectory” framework, underpinned by what they describe as a “hybridized approach” between critical theory and post-structuralism. Such a project offers a useful perspective on the challenges posed by attempting to blend theoretical perspectives (see FAQ 2) – a topic that has been raised in earlier entries (10 Dec. 2017, 18 Feb. 2018, 4 March 2018).

Perhaps we need different ways to think about our entanglement in theory. If “no theoretical frame is self-sufficient or all-encompassing, and each can be useful to reveal what the others elide” (Chagani, 2014; emphasis added; see below for references), we require a form of inquiry that encourages comparisons along these lines. I believe that the WPR approach offers such a form of inquiry.

In Analysing Policy (2009: 249) I explain that all theories are forms of proposal and therefore contain problem representations. Hence, they can be subjected, productively, to the questions in the “What’s the Problem Represented to be?” approach. I follow up this suggestion in my analyses of health policy (pp. 128-136), criminal justice policy (pp. 103-105) and gambling policy (pp. 249-251). Other authors have pursued the suggestion that WPR can be applied to forms of academic text and argument. See for example Månsson, J., & Ekendahl, M. (2015). Most recently, Skovhus and Thomsen (2017) have used WPR to conduct a critical review of Danish career guidance research, indicating the potential of using WPR to conduct a critical literature review. The goal in this suggestion to apply WPR to varieties of theory and knowledge production is to focus attention on what is at stake in different perspectives (Question 5) and to help identify critical “sticking points” (Question 2) (Bacchi WPR CHART).


Chagani, F. (2014) Critical political ecology and the seductions of posthumanism, Journal of Political Ecology, 21.

Månsson, J., & Ekendahl, M. (2015). Protecting prohibition: The role of Swedish information symposia in keeping cannabis a high-profile problem. Contemporary Drug Problems, 42, 209–225.

Skovhus, R. B. & Thomsen, R. (2017). Popular problems, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 45(1): 112-131.