Governing through problems: public policies as discursive practices
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Policies produce ‘problems’ in specific ways (Bacchi, 2009). Following this logic, policies are regarded as an attempt to bring together ‘rules’ for the ‘solving’ of ‘problems’ that occur with respect to specifically defined ‘subjects’ and ‘objects’ (Bacchi & Goodwin, 2016). The present study, engages the exploration of how 'problems' are constituted or brought into being, an approach known as problematization (Bacchi, 2009). I investigate how 'problems', as articulated within India's anti-Sexual Harassment at Workplaces (SHW) policies, have come to be in their present form. The analysis produces insights for both anti-SHW and other prevention, arbitration and redressal based policies. I engage with the concept of unequal responsibility, and unequal epistemic burdens (Fricker, 2017) that members of certain genders, sexual orientations and castes - are in principle confronting - within the legal/ policy apparatus of anti-SHW. The study illustrates these problematizations and their underlying assumptions, through poststructuralist and postcolonial policy analysis of: 1. State High Court and Supreme Court verdicts in cases of SHW in the period of 1989 through 2019. 2. Allied policy documents (such as Justice JS Verma committee report, Rajya Sabha deliberations, Handbook on anti-SHW policy by Ministry of Women and Child Development etc.) 3. Interviews with private (legal) consultants, trainers, independent members on enquiry committees, state commissions for women and4. Allied anti-SHW training related documents - materials found through participation in webinar trainings and on consultant websites. Contributions of this analysis include a. Emphasizing the need to go beyond the overdetermination of regulatory compliance to include expansive provisions for workers regardless of the ‘formal/informal’ nature of work; b. Resignifying the legal tenets employed in the arbitration of anti-SHW cases, including principles of natural justice, hostile work environment, quid pro quo and the reasonable person/man/woman test. I argue that the practices associated with these seemingly ‘objective’ legal tenets produce subjects in differentiated levels of power and impunity; c. Alternative practices for the discourses of diversity, inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination, that are situated in local contexts for the consideration of anti-SHW policies and policymakers. d. Unpacking universal ‘woman’ and ‘worker’ categories and illustrating the value of analysing the subjects produced through policy ‘problems’.
- Thesis and Dissertations