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    Analysis, Imagination and Action How did Civil Society Influence Public Policy in Relation to LGBTI+ Young People in Ireland 1993-2015?

    Barron, Michael (2020) Analysis, Imagination and Action How did Civil Society Influence Public Policy in Relation to LGBTI+ Young People in Ireland 1993-2015? PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This study considers how civil society organisations influenced Irish public policy in relation to LGBTI+ young people between 1993, the year when homosexuality was decriminalised, and 2015 when both marriage equality and gender recognition legislation were introduced. While there is a growing body of scholarly work concerning the LGBTI+ community in Ireland and significant scholarship about the processes of policy making, there are significant gaps in literature about LGBTI+ young people and the role of civil society in public policy development. This study addresses these gaps with the intention of sharing learning with advocates for policy change. Taking a qualitative and interpretivist approach, interviews with actors from civil society, the public service and politicians, who are together presented as members of the ‘policy community’, offer rich insights into policy development processes over a twenty-two-year period of significant social change. The study draws on public policy theory, including Kingdon’s Agenda Setting Framework, to explain how and why policy change occurred. It finds that civil society engaged in intentional, sustained and strategic long-term processes of turning ideals (social justice and equality) into actions (community, cultural and policy change). These strategies demanded social analysis to define ‘policy problems’, imagination to develop ‘policy solutions’ and action with government to bring about policy change. The work brought together three strands: 1. youth work (both as a process of consciousness raising and as a vehicle for building community infrastructure), 2. campaigns of public narrative change (to address culturally embedded stigmas and oppression) and 3. targeted policy change, which was enabled by the development of long-term relationships with politicians and public servants. In considering these strands together this research highlights limitations of policy analysis in relation to self-organised communities which fails to consider the roles played by community building and anti-discrimination advocacy. The research finds that in framing advocacy as the pursuit of equality, civil society’s work was underpinned by social values and by equality legislation, which it played a central role in developing. This is presented in this study as part of an activist tradition amongst communities who experience inequality, as is the concept of ‘queer optimism’, whereby civil society presented an alternative vision of Irish society which did not ‘speak back to’ (and thereby be seen to recognise and engage with) anti-LGBTI+ narratives, but rather focused on realising an ideal.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Analysis; Imagination; Action; Civil Society; Influence Public Policy; LGBTI+; Young People; Ireland; 1993-2015;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Applied Social Studies
    Item ID: 16848
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2023 12:00
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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