The WPR approach is a user-friendly tool consisting of seven interrelated forms of questioning and analysis (Bacchi WPR CHART). It can be applied in a wide array of fields beyond policy analysis, including health sciences, geography, law and accounting/finance. PhD students and other researchers have found the approach particularly helpful in thinking through the meaning and goals of their research, and in planning and guiding that research.
This novel approach to policy analysis challenges the conventional view that public policies are responses or reactions to problems that sit outside the policy process, waiting to be discovered and solved. By contrast, the WPR approach argues that policies contain implicit representations of the “problems” they purport to address. These problem representations enact “problems” as particular sorts of problems, thus becoming a crucial part of how governing takes place. The goal of the WPR approach is to treat these problem representations as problematizations that require critical scrutiny. Drawing on Foucauldian-influenced poststructural theory, the WPR approach consists of six questions and an undertaking to apply those questions to one’s own proposals or proposed ‘solutions’ in a practice of self-problematization.