Toolkit for undertaking a Receiver-Doer-Judge critical policy analysis framework of public and social services: policy grid for participation, empowerment and capacity to aspire

  • Publication
  • 27.03.2024
  • Deliverable
  • Working paper

INVOLVE’s Receiver, Doer, Judge approach aims to both better understand and transform how public and social services impact on inequality, participation and trust, by focusing on the key concepts of participation, empowerment, and capacity to aspire of marginalised groups within public and social policy. This toolkit draws on critical feminist social theory and critical policy analysis, to develop an intersectional and participatory co-produced policy analysis framework. This enables a bespoke Receiver Doer Judge policy analysis of public policies relating to services impacting on marginalised groups. It focuses on how public policies and public services deal with conditionality and inequality, capacity to aspire, participation, and empowerment.

We draw on a number of critical policy theories, frameworks and methods which enable us to develop an RDJ based policy analysis. We draw on feminist critical policy theory (Fraser) and critical policy analysis frameworks (developed in relation to participation, intersectionality, rights and trauma-informed approaches).

In order to ensure marginalised groups have power and voice within policy, to influence and change policies, we need to understand policies. To allow this change, we need to be clear on how current policies are not working and how they could work better. Involve puts questions and concerns of social justice, exclusion, inequalities, democracy and empowerment central to its research therefore, a critical policy analysis approach is most appropriate.

Our framework is produced into a policy analysis grid which can enable a country-specific policy analysis of the inclusiveness in public and social services of different disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, and how they enable vulnerable individuals and groups facing multiple inequalities to realise their aspirations, and to be heard through an approach that is rooted within a co-production participatory approach itself. This is developed to enable INVOLVE’s Receiver, Doer, Judge framework as a policy analysis approach.

The toolkit that is part of the EU-funded INVOLVE project is focused on the relationship between democracy and inequalities. The policies relate to public services for vulnerable groups in health, education, employment and housing, across eight European countries. The co-produced critical policy analysis aims to improve our understanding of public and social policies and services and their impact on trust and participation in relation to the public and social services they are investigating, with a particular focus on the equality and participation of vulnerable people in public and social services and policymaking, through co-production, participation and empowerment of marginalised and disadvantaged groups within policy analysis and policy making.

The aim of this policy analysis is not only to co-create new knowledge and understanding of policies and their impacts and outcomes, but also co-create policy transformation through development of new/reformed policies and public/social service practice, participation, empowerment, and capacity to aspire, address inequalities and enhance trust. The key questions we want to ask are, does policy (at European, national and local levels) address and consider participation, empowerment and ‘capacity to aspire’ of marginalised groups we are working with? If it does, how does it do this? How does it conceptualise and describe the social issue (‘the problem’)? What ways should policy address these? We investigate how states and institutions enable vulnerable individuals and groups facing multiple inequalities to be included in the development of policy. We identify five key areas within the RDJ framework that we believe require a particular focus in a critical policy analysis of public/social services and policy: policy development and problematisation, participation, conditionality, aspiration, empowerment, and voice. The toolkit/policy grid therefore, puts the analysis of individuals capacity of voice (to voice their concerns and opinions) within the policy process, as a central concern.

We developed a critical policy analysis framework which enables the exploration of the voices of those typically not heard in traditional policy contexts and processes. It allows us to understand whether or not (and if so, how) institutions enable vulnerable individuals and groups facing multiple inequalities to be included in the development and implementation of policy. We ask how has the process of engaging in an intersectionality-based policy analysis transformed in terms of relations and structures of power and inequality, ways in engaging in policy development work, implementation and evaluation, broader conceptualisations, and effects of power asymmetry in the everyday world.

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