Critical policy evaluation and the question of values: a psychosocial approach

David Taylor

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This paper proposes a tentative approach to critical policy evaluation. It does so through a central focus on values. It suggests that emerging psychosocial approaches to welfare provide a useful way of considering values associated with the subjective dimension of welfare. Evaluation is presented as discursively constructed within political, scientific and popular discourses. It is a socially situated practice, whose meaning and methodology are contested by politicians, policy-makers, evaluation commissioners, welfare practitioners, professional evaluators and users of services. Contestation is approached as a methodological issue and a question of power. In this respect, evaluation is seen as part of a governance strategy but the argument seeks to avoid the tendency towards functionalism of some recent accounts of evaluation as governance. Instead, the question is approached by considering the role of values in evaluation. The article seeks to relate what are referred to as the internal valuesthat guide evaluation practice with the external values of political critique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-267
Number of pages25
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

Copyright Sage Publications


  • governance, participation, policy evaluation, psychosocial welfare, service user control, values


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