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Critical Policy Analysis: Using Focus Groups to Explore Social Policy in India

Case
By: Rhonda Breitkreuz & Brent Swallow Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Political Science and International Relations
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Abstract

This case study reflects on the experiences of doing a critical policy analysis focused on the implementation of key national social policies in India intended to address poverty and malnutrition. This work was conducted by researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in India. The purpose of this study was to explore the implementation of large-scale national policies at a local level and to identify areas of convergence as well as gaps between policy goals and implementation. We employed a mixed-method data collection strategy that had two components. The first entailed a systematic, in-depth review of relevant policy documents, including policy drivers, goals, and outcomes as available from government sources, non-governmental policy think tanks, and scholarly literature. The second component entailed qualitative data collection through focus groups with policy implementers and end users in three rural areas of India, comparing their perspectives and experiences with the policy claims of relevant national social policies. Key challenges with doing international, cross-cultural research using a critical policy approach and key learnings gained from this research journey are explored in this case study.

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