chapter  10
12 Pages

Counterpublics, crisis and critique

A feminist socio-historical approach to researching policy
WithJessica Gerrard

This chapter explores an approach to policy research that seeks to understand the broader social, political and historical dimensions to policy. The chapter examines contemporary political philosopher Nancy Fraser's conceptualisation of subaltern counterpublics as a means to examine these wider social, cultural and political dimensions of policy-related practice. Following with Fraser's feminist critique of Jurgen Habermas's theory of the public sphere, the chapter suggests the value of extending policy research beyond the processes and practices that appear within the legitimated public policy field. For policy research, the feminist critique of the public suggests the need to investigate social practices and contestations that lie beyond the obvious public interplay characterising policy production. Notwithstanding legitimate criticisms of Fraser's glossing over of the diversity of feminism, Fraser's analysis raises important questions surrounding the nature of policy reforms, pointing to the messy entanglements between subaltern counterpublics, critique and the development of capitalism.