Negotiating temporary settlements: A genealogy of policy production in Australian higher education

Year: 2000

Author: GALE, T

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper identifies a number of strategies employed by policy actors in the production of Australian higher education entry policy during the (Dawkins/Labor) period from 1987 to 1996. It begins from the premise that while policy is often intended to be read as if spoken with a single voice, suggesting rational debate and (then) consensus amongst policy producers, it is more cogently understood as the product of struggle and conflict. Informed by twenty-seven semi-structured interviews with politicians, political advisers, bureaucrats, academics, institutional administrators and independent authorities, the paper addresses the temporary settling of these actors' struggles and conflicts in contexts of policy making through strategies of negotiation: including, trading, bargaining, arguing, stalling, manoeuvring and lobbying. Rather than providing a sequential account of higher education policy that weaves its way through these negotiations, as grand narrative, the paper is more sporadic in its representations of strategies, identifying them in 'local' and specific knowledges and practices. Drawing on Foucault, what emerges is both an archaeology and genealogy of policy production.