University Of Tasmania

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Interpretation and its Others

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 00:28 authored by Rhodes, RAW, Bevir, M
An interpretive approach to political science provides accounts of actions and practices that are interpretations of interpretations. We develop this argument using the idea of 'situated agency'. There are many common criticisms of such an approach. This paper focuses on nine: that an interpretive approach is mere common sense; that it focuses on beliefs or discourses, not actions or practices; that it ignores concepts of social structure; that it seeks to understand actions and practices, not to explain them; that it is concerned exclusively with qualitative techniques of data generation; that it must accept actors' own accounts of their beliefs; that it is insensitive to the ways in which power constitutes beliefs; that it is incapable of producing policy-relevant knowledge; and that it is incapable of producing objective knowledge. We show that the criticisms rest on both misconceptions about an interpretive approach and misplaced beliefs in the false idols of hard data and rigorous methods.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Political Science








School of Social Sciences


Carfax Publishing

Place of publication

Rankine Rd, Basingstoke, England, Hants, Rg24 8Pr

Rights statement

The definitive published version is available online at:

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Government and politics not elsewhere classified

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