Diffraction as a Method of Critical Policy Analysis

Jasmine B. Ulmer
Vol 36, Number 1, p.68
Recent developments in critical policy analysis have occurred alongside the new materialisms in qualitative research. These lines of scholarship have unfolded along two separate, but related, tracks. In particular, the new materialist method of diffraction aligns with many elements of critical policy analysis. Both involve critical theory, complexity and multiple analyses. To examine diffraction as a potential method of critical policy analysis, this paper enacts Karen Barad’s method of diffraction through the theoretical writings of Jane Bennett and Gloria Anzaldu´a. Using the example of teacher leaders who are involved in educational policy, Bennett’s vibrant ecologies illustrate ecosystems of teacher leadership and Anzaldu´a’s borderlands demonstrate how teacher leaders bridge their roles within multiple layers of community, governance and identity. Through the method of diffraction, critical policy analyses may produce broader perspectives regarding the ways in which differing stakeholders, groups, technologies and even theories collectively shape policy. Significantly, understanding educational policy differently may result in better educational policy-making.