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ECPR 2020 Interpretive Section 26-28 Aug 2020

ECPR 2020 General Conference, the ECPR Standing Group on Theoretical Perspectives in Policy Analysis

Interpretive Approaches to Policy Studies: Developments, Challenges and Ways Forward

When: 26-28 August 2020

Where: Innsbruck, Austria

Who: Koen Bartels, Kathrin Braun, Selen Ercan, Anna Durnová, Tamara Metze and Hendrik Wagenaar

About 40 years ago, in the wake of the disappointing results of the Great Society evaluation programs, a number of policy scholars, including Martin Rein, Aaron Wildavsky and Frank Fischer, began to question the epistemic foundations of positivist research in policy analysis. Picking up on a general interest in non-foundational social theory (Fay, 1975; Bernstein 1978; Hawkesworth, 1988), these scholars challenged positivist research methods that promised epistemic certainty and emphasized the fact-value dichotomy, one of the cornerstones of these methods. They observed the inability of ‘facts’ to settle policy controversies (Rein, 1976). And they were receptive to the generative role of language in policy debates, foregrounding metaphor (Schön, 1993) and narrative (Roe 1994) as factors that shaped and not just represented policy issues. Since then, interpretive approaches to policy studies have taken wing. According to a number of academic criteria, these approaches have become an established part of the vocabulary and repertoire of the policy analyst.  A large repertoire of interpretive methods is now available that suits analysis of every possible policy issue. [..] At the same time, we cannot speak of a unified field guided by a single theoretical perspective on how to study and analyse policies. Instead, these publications identify various approaches and streams that have taken the field in different directions. Wagenaar (2011) for example distinguishes between hermeneutic, discursive, and dialogical approaches, while Fischer et al. (2015) differentiate interpretive, critical, and post-structuralist perspectives [….]

For more information, see https://standinggroups.ecpr.eu/tppa/?p=267