Table of Contents

Handbook of Critical Policy Studies

Handbook of Critical Policy Studies

Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Edited by Frank Fischer, Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnová and Michael Orsini

Critical policy studies, as illustrated in this Handbook, challenges the conventional approaches public policy inquiry. But it offers important innovations as well, in particular its focus on discursive politics, policy argumentation and deliberation, and interpretive modes of analysis.

Chapter 21: Making sense of policy practices: interpretation and meaning

Dvora Yanow

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance, research methods, qualitative research methods


Interpretive policy analysis – which derived its name from the interpretive turn under way in the latter part of the 20th century across the social sciences – departed from a different set of methodological presuppositions from those informing policy analysis as that practice had been initially conceived. Shifting analytic focus away from instrumental rationality, it turned to meaning-making – its expression as well as its communication – as an alternative for explaining human action. This chapter expounds on this background, highlighting the ontological and epistemological presuppositions that lie at the heart of interpretive policy analysis, and their methodological implications, illustrated by an example from the author’s research.

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