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Imagining Policy [Data] Differently

Part of the Education Policy & Social Inequality book series (EPSI,volume 1)

Abstract

This chapter articulates a call to attend to how policy imagines, or cannot imagine, futures. Utilizing examples from a policy table focused on increasing Black young parents education success, Pillow demonstrates the necessity to trace how data matter in policy formation. Situating this work within a context of education debt and data deficits, Pillow takes seriously Webb and Gulson’s petition to reinvigorate policy studies in ways that account for embodied materialities. Troubled by the incapacity to think Black youth futures outside of temporal and structural constraints, Pillow focuses on questions of how policy creates feelings about young parents and turns to Afrofuturism theorizing to identify and rethink policy construction limitations. The chapter concludes with consideration of what it might look like to imagine policy data and futures differently and the need for continued emphasis in this area.

Keywords

  • Policy Scientificity
  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Young Mother
  • Policy Study
  • Policy Future

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I use Black as the term of choice by youth in this chapter. The term is inclusive of Black Diaspora, African American, and Black Caribbean identities and encompasses Black identity/identification “understood as hybrid, contingent, and relational …” (Allen 2012, p. 234).

  2. 2.

    “Expectant and parenting youth” (EPY) refers to young parents, male and female, ages 12–21, and is the current preferred term in US youth policy. In this chapter, EPY is interchangeably used with young parents except when referring to young mothers. Teen mothers/teen pregnancy is used when referring to representations in research, media, and policy discourse. Chapter focus on Black EPY arises from the research setting in which Black youth represented over 85% of EPY.

  3. 3.

    Feminist genealogy, a type of policy scientificity 3.0, pays particular attention to power and embodied effects/affects shaped though historical, social, cultural, economic, political and place-based discourses further reproduced in theory, research and practice. For further detail see: Pillow (2003, 2004, 2015a).

  4. 4.

    Feminist praxis is the connection between theory and practice; it is putting theory to work (Stanley 1990). For discussion see the journal FemTAP: A journal of feminist theory and practice.

  5. 5.

    Here “data” refers to all forms of textual, discursive, observational, interview, and quantitative information, experiences, and knowledge gained from feminist genealogy.

  6. 6.

    Here ‘the data’ indicates how data at the policy table were primarily defined and understood to be about defining the policy subject, in this case EPY. Such data were expected to be clearly presented in quantitative (charts, graphs) or qualitative (narratives) forms. Examining onto-epistemological expectations of data at the policy table is a theme developed and discussed throughout the chapter.

  7. 7.

    Onto-epistemological combines questions of ontology (nature of being) with epistemology (nature of knowledge) as inextricably connected.

  8. 8.

    Direct quotes from conversations or town hall meetings with EPY, ages 15–20, NYC, 2013–2014.

  9. 9.

    Such data are time consuming and difficult to collect and often not available at the policy table. Schools in the US do not separately track EPY attendance, enrollment, or school leaving. A nuanced understanding of EPY school behaviors can only be accomplished through meticulous case-by-case identification.

  10. 10.

    Those working with EPY and EPY themselves note several points of motivation to receive information about education access: within first two trimesters of pregnancy; within six months of parenting; when a parent nears ‘age-out’ limits on high school education; and/or when the EPY’s child reaches toddler, preschool age.

  11. 11.

    Quotes are from meetings of the policy table that is the focus of this chapter.

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Correspondence to Wanda S. Pillow .

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Pillow, W.S. (2017). Imagining Policy [Data] Differently. In: Parker, S., Gulson, K., Gale, T. (eds) Policy and Inequality in Education. Education Policy & Social Inequality, vol 1. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4039-9_8

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