• ELIZABETH AYRE PhD Fellow, Maastricht University; Director, European Network of Children of Imprisoned Parents


Issue framing, parental incarceration, agenda-setting, discursive architecture, policy processes, access strategies, frame resonance,


Recognition of the best interests and the right to family life of children separated from an imprisoned parent in Europe has evolved significantly since the 1989 UNCRC. Yet the evolution of policy initiatives to protect the best interests and safeguard the right to family life of this group of children based on the principles inherent in this convention and others has failed to keep pace. Why is the transposition of their rights to family life and well-being lagging or absent with respect to policymaking on national and European Union levels? The crucial role of issue framing in policymaking has been well documented; the way issues are framed has impact. In this theoretical discussion, based on a literature review, the author proposes a constructivist analytical framework combining theories of issue framing, agenda-setting and lobbying to address the dynamics of policy processes and discursive interactions among policy entrepreneurs, political actors and publics for children affected by parental incarceration, and to advance some hypotheses concerning those factors which could be impeding policy interactions for affected children at national and EU levels. This framework, to be developed over the next five years as part of research that the author is undertaking at Maastricht University, will enhance understanding of the ways in which framing dynamics play a role in the more intricate, fragmented policymaking environment of EU institutions, and might shed light on the ways in which policies on behalf of this group of children could be further promoted in future.


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