Key Themes and Concepts

  • Carol Bacchi
  • Susan Goodwin


The “What’s the Problem Represented to be?” (WPR) approach invokes a number of concepts that require elaboration. Many rely, at least to an extent, upon the writings of Michel Foucault, indicated in the quotations from his works. This chapter explains how these concepts are interlinked and how they function to produce the form of theorizing enabled by a WPR form of analysis. The following topics are addressed: what it means to describe policy as productive; the kinds of practices targeted for scrutiny; how discourses feature in the analysis; what is involved in problematizing and problematization; what is achieved by expanding “government” to include the roles of professionals, experts, and allied agencies; how genealogy produces a “history of the present”; the place of political “subjects” in a Foucault-influenced analysis.


power practices discourse problematization governmentality genealogy subjectification 


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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol Bacchi
    • 1
  • Susan Goodwin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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