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Local Knowledge and Possibilities and Limits of Interpretive Policy Analysis

  • Korean Society and Public Administration
  • Abbr : KSPA
  • 2011, 22(3), pp.239-259
  • Publisher : Seoul Association For Public Administration
  • Research Area : Social Science > Public Administration

이종원 1

1가톨릭대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to introduce the concept and diverse methods of interpretive policy analysis, and examines its possibilities and limits vis-a-vis mainstream positivistic policy analysis. In addition, this paper offers some suggestions as to how scholars of Korean public administration can utilize this approach to policy analysis. Interpretive policy analysis is a methodology which focuses on policy meanings and describes and explains how values, emotions, and beliefs are expressed in policies, as well as how their meanings are communicated and understood within policy communities, and can be used to further prescribe alternative policy options. Interpretive policy analysis uses various methods to analyze symbolic language, objects, and acts, to understand shared meanings among community members. This paper introduces several of these methods including symbolic language (metaphor analysis, category analysis, and narrative analysis), symbolic objects (built space analysis and program analysis), and symbolic acts (ritual analysis and myth analysis). In addition, this paper discusses the possibilities and limitations of interpretive policy analysis, which is mainly utilized to describe and explain policy but can be partially used for prescriptive research and can be broadly utilized to analyze the whole policy process. The most fundamental limitation of interpretive policy analysis is that it is easy to fall into the so-called subjectivist trap. Nonetheless, this paper claims that there is a possibility of "substantive objectification" if the analysis is based on the understanding of "interpretive community." Finally, this paper argues that analytical methods can be constructively integrated and interpretive policy analysis can be used as a supplement rather than an alternative to mainstream positivist policy analysis.

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