Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Policy Silences and Poverty in Ireland: An Argument for Inclusive Approaches

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Abstract:  Policy documents shape and inform policy but they are not neutral objects. Policy documents can also silence through the exclusion and omission of discrete knowledges transmitted through testimony and lived experience. Even where steps are taken to ensure inclusion, policies can be underpinned by a policy making process that also potentially omits and silences through a narrow conception of how to include the voices of those directly affected by policy in the policy making process. This article will address the phenomenon of “policy silences” in the following ways: Firstly, by taking inspiration from Bacchi’s (2009) policy analysis framework—which asks of policy documents “what is the problem represented to be?” (the WPR approach)—and focusing on question no. 4 of the WPR framework—which asks, in part, “where are the silences?”—the Irish policy document Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020‐2025 will be briefly reviewed. Following this, the approach taken in a creative, arts‐based, participatory research project which included, mapping, photography and walking interviews as a means of exploring the lived experiences and hidden geographies of poverty will be presented as a way of demonstrating inclusive research practice and as a means of tacitly problematizing and further critiquing an anaemic understanding of inclusion which potentially creates “policy silences.” Finally, an argument for forms of inclusion that go beyond current practices to include, in creative ways, the voices of those directly affected by policy in the policy making process will be put forth.

Keywords:  Ireland; policy; policy silences; poverty; social inclusion



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© Joe Whelan. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.