Interpretive approaches to research and analysis—methodologies and methods concerned with situated meaning(s), historical context(s), and the importance of human subjectivity—are experiencing renewed interest and revitalisation in the social sciences broadly. They constitute the basic cornerstone of a critical approach to policy analysis which challenges the positivism and scientism that still characterize much policy analytic research.
Interpretive Policy Analysis network (IPA) is an international platform for scholars, researchers and practitioners advancing qualitative, interpretive policy analysis. The Interpretive Policy Analysis network is organised as a community of loosely affiliated individuals. The network and its meetings are open to all of those committed to an interpretive approach to policy analysis. To emphasise its openness, the Interpretive Policy Analysis network does not have formal membership.
The aim of the Interpretive Policy Analysis network is to foster the scholarly study of Interpretive Policy Analysis including the historical development of policy and its role in science, politics and society. More specific aims include:
It promotes various activities to further these aims, including thematic and general meetings, organised visits and exchanges, the publication of newsletters. At the heart of these is the International Interpretive Policy Analysis conference, which was first held in Birmingham in 2006.
The network is closely linked to the journal of Critical Policy Studies.