Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CfP:: International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis: Discursive Spaces. Politics, Practices and Power

International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis: Discursive Spaces. Politics, Practices and Power

Dates: 23–25 June 2011

Location: Cardiff University, Wales, UK
Supported by: ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability & Society

Introduction and conference themes
The conference will provide a forum to explore long-standing themes in the interpretive tradition, in particular governance, democracy and deliberation, the use of discourse and interpretive methods in critical policy analysis, and the relationship of discourse to power. It will also explore new places and horizons for interpretive policy analysis. This will be particularly evident in the keynote presentations and roundtables which are focussed on the contribution of interpretive policy analysis to addressing major political and social questions of our times; the use of interpretivist and deliberative methods in non-Western contexts; and the inclusion of non-cognitive perspectives on human agency. The conference will also offer an opportunity to assess how interpretive methods can help to understand new forms of governance, the role of the state, and various modes of policymaking from the local to the global scale. It will provide an opportunity to discuss the theory and practice of democracy, and for debating different methods of interpretation and critical explanation.
Interpretive methods have now been well established in a wide range of research fields, from policy analysis to the sociology of knowledge, science and technology studies, international relations, cultural political economy, urban research, planning, and many others. They often inform policy and practices, in particular in areas like participatory and deliberative policy analysis and planning. The relationship between interpretive methods, governance and policy practice raises several important questions that underpin the conference themes listed below:
  • Interpretive Methods and Policy Processes: How exactly can and do interpretive and critical methods inform the policy process? Under which circumstances are they accepted as legitimate modes of knowledge production? What evidence do we have about their impact on policy-making? How does interpretive policy analysis relate to everyday policy knowledge, how does it alter our understanding of modes of knowing, and how is this important for policy-making? Which modes of governance are conducive to, or even reliant on, critical policy analysis?
  • Sustainable Development and Interpretive and Critical Policy Analysis: Developed as a response to a complex and global set of crisis-like phenomena, the term “sustainable development” is both dominant in many policy discourses and highly contested. How can interpretive and critical policy analysis help to clarify issues and enhance democratic approaches in the face of technocratic and even autocratic visions of sustainability? How can it encourage participatory and context-sensitive approaches? What is the contribution to creating links between global problems and local practices?
  • Meaning, Practice and Policy: The complex interplay of meaning and practice has been a central theme of interpretive and critical policy analysis for a long time. How are meaning-making, framing and category-making important for the policy process? What are the merits and limitations of hermeneutic, pragmatist and structuralist informed approaches? How can they help us to understand changing modes of governance? What is their potential to enhance democracy?
  • Emotions and Feelings in Policy: New avenues for interpretive and critical policy analysis have been opened up by recent research on the role of emotions, feelings and the unconscious in the policy process. How can we include non-cognitive dimensions in policy analysis? How does this contribute to our understanding of the policy process? What are the practical implications both for the research process and for policy-making?
  • Globalising Interpretive Analysis: Interpretive and critical policy analysis has been developed in the context of Western democracies. How far have they travelled to other places? How do they fare in contexts that are often very different? What are the methodological limitations? What is their potential in less affluent, less open, less secularised societies (and are such deficit descriptions appropriate at all)? Are there regionally different approaches and ways forward? How is the critically reflexive concept of knowledge been received in non-Western contexts?
  • Interpreting the State in Policy Analysis: The state has been a centrepiece of political thinking since its inception. But political thinking has often been led astray by essentialist and even idolizing notions of the state. How can interpretive, narrative or performative approaches inform more democratic views of the state? How does this enhance our understanding of governance? What are the practical implications for policy analysis?
Paper proposals are encouraged to engage with the conference themes, but are equally invited to address other themes and issues in the realm of interpretive policy analysis and adjacent fields. Conference papers might include one or more of the following topics:
  • Theoretical: The contribution of a particular theoretical or philosophical approach to critical policy, policy discourse and power analysis, including the emerging focus on global policy.
  • Empirical: Analytic and empirical case studies of discourse and power, especially in relation to policy practices, deliberation, and governance, both local and global; interpretive understandings of the policy process; the role of knowledge in the policy process.
  • Substantive: Case studies from particular policy issue arenas, from the local to the global (e.g., local, reflexive and meta-governance; political economy; environmental policymaking, the politics of climate change and sustainable development; gender relations; global policy, global inequalities; bio-politics; food policy; urban and regional planning; and immigration policy).
  • Methodological: Issues in doing interpretive and critical policy analysis (e.g., reflexivity in policy-analytic practices; issues in using new recording technologies; internet research; getting, and using, feedback from ‘informants’ evaluating software programs; non-verbal methods; mobile methodologies; mixed methods approaches).
  • Practical: Clarification of interpretive approaches in use, such as varieties of discourse analysis, narrative analysis, deliberative policy inquiry, framing, rhetoric, category-making and metaphor.
  • Policy Analysis and Practice: The relationship between policy analytic practices and democratic and/or other theories of governance.
Proposals for Papers
Paper proposals will be submitted via email directly to the panel convenors by 31 January 2011. Selected panels and convenors’ emails have been published on the conference website Proposals for papers that do not fit into one of the panels should be submitted to the “Open Section” and emailed to, with “Paper proposal” in the subject heading. A maximum of two submissions per individual will be accepted. All paper proposals should be sent as Word file and contain:
  • Number and title of panel
  • Title of paper
  • Name, institutional affiliation and email of the presenter(s)
  • Abstract (max 300 words)
  • Up to five keywords
Please use Arial 11 to facilitate further processing. Paper givers will be notified about acceptance of their papers by mid February. For those paper proposals that are accepted, full papers of no more than 6.000 words will be due one month prior to the conference date: 23 May 2011. They should be emailed to both and the panel convenors, writing “Full paper” in the subject heading. Submitted conference papers will be accessible for registered participants through the conference website. Papers from the conference may be considered for a special issue of Critical Policy Studies, Editors - Frank Fischer (Rutgers University, USA) and Steven Griggs (De Montfort, UK); Forum Editors – Navdeep Mathur (Indian Institute of Management, India) and Douglas Torgerson (Trent University, Canada). To reach the editorial team of Critical Policy Studies, please contact Helen Hancock at

Methodology Workshops
A number of the sessions will be devoted to methodological workshops. These 90-minute workshop sessions feature specialists in different aspects of interpretive policy analysis. The workshop sessions, following the approach employed in earlier conferences, build on the idea of a “master-class” in musical studies, where two more experienced researchers will meet a small number of “newer” researchers to discuss issues in using a particular methodological strategy or method. The emphasis will be on questions raised by the newer researchers, and their research will be treated as case studies to generate and engage relevant methodological issues. Presenters are asked to focus on their methods.
The workshops seek to create a setting where newer scholars can benefit from focused interaction with more seasoned experts in their field. The goal is to discuss questions about interpretive research and to exchange experiences on a range of relevant topics, such as discourse analysis, interviewing and participant observation. The sessions will be facilitated, and the discussants will be established figures in the field of interpretative policy analysis, such as Frank Fischer, Navdeep Mathur, Henk Wagenaar, and Dvora Yanow. The sessions are fully incorporated into the regular conference program; and, as part of an effort to create a collaborative learning environment, the sessions are open to all conference participants.
In order to take part in a workshop session, newer researchers invited to present their work in one of these will be asked to introduce their research project, pointing to particular methodological questions that have arisen in their research and/or field experiences that they would like to explore in the workshop. If you wish to be considered for inclusion in a Methodology Workshop, please submit your proposal to the conference email no later than 31 January 2011, writing “Methodology workshop proposal” in the subject heading of your email.
Your submission should include
  • your name, institutional affiliation and email
  • title of your research project
  • your career stage (e.g., year of your PhD studies, year PhD dissertation defense is anticipated, year of post-doc work and date PhD was received, etc.)
  • a brief description of your research project, its methodological approach and the problem that you would like to discuss (500-600 words, double-spaced, Arial 11).

For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Methodology Workshop Advisory Board by sending an E-Mail to, writing “Methodology workshop” in the subject heading. Full papers for the methodology workshops should have no more than 3.000 words and will be due one month prior to the conference date: 23 May 2011. They should be emailed to both and the panel convenors, writing "Methodology workshop paper" paper in the subject heading.

  • Call for Papers Deadline: January 31, 2011
  • Call for Participation in Methodology Workshop Deadline: January 31, 2011
  • Inquiries to:
  • Abstract submissions to direct to panel convenors (please see list and contact details on the conference website)

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