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Constructing Policy Knowledge: Contradictions, Communication, and Knowledge Frames

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Abstract:

This study examined the communicative construction of policy knowledge within and across groups. Participants were 100 professionals and parents involved in special education and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Structurating activity theory guided the interpretive analysis of communication and contradictions as participants developed policy knowledge over time. Results indicate that contradictions emerged as both generative mechanisms for knowledge construction and as hindrances to system transformations that would put that constructed knowledge into practice. Contradictions emerged and were managed in three knowledge construction frames: orientation, amplification, and implementation. The frames occurred in varying sequences that led to different outcomes across groups and issues. Implications are offered for theory, research, and practice regarding policy communication across related groups.

Keywords: Activity Systems; Contradictions; Knowledge; Policy; Structurating Activity Theory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637751003758185

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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