Data, evidence and the public discourse, 25 May

We are bombarded by market data, whereas social data is less visible in the public sphere. It is of course the interpretation of data which lends it any meaning or value so it is often the analysts and commentators which shape public opinion and even the wider public discourse.

In this presentation, Alan Johnson, senior social policy analyst with The Salvation Army’s Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit, challenged this state of affairs by considering the role of The Salvation Army’s State of the Nation reports. These reports have been published each February since 2008 and are designed to offer a commentary on New Zealand’s social progress which is readily accessible to an interested media and public.

This commentary is a deliberate attempt to re-frame the policy debate in an effort to shift public discourse. The presentation considered this contest for the public discourse and the role which policy analysts and commentators play in this.