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Call for Papers: International Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference, Vienna 2013

International Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference (IPA) 2013: Societies in Conflict: Experts, Publics and Democracy

Vienna (Austria),  3 – 5 July 2013 :

The Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna together with the Life-Science-Governance Research Platform (LSG), the Austrian Political Science Association (ÖGPW), Institute of Forest, Environmental, and Natural Resource Policy at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) hosts the 8th International Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) conference under the title “Societies in Conflict: Experts, Publics and Democracy”.


Call for panels: Please submit your panel proposal at by 30th November 2012

Affairs such as Stuttgart 21, the ‘Occupy movement’s’ response to the financial crisis, ecological problems, or diverse controversies around novel technologies, are timely examples of conflicts between groups of publics and the political establishment. Such movements put into question the status of legitimate knowledge and the articulation of legitimate representation. They question, at the same time, routine operations of traditional democratic institutions, and reintroduce the question of how to define “the political” and “politics” in general.

The 8th continuation of the IPA conference gives therefore a special focus to the intersection of policy analysis with Science and Technology Studies (STS) by highlighting the relation between publics and experts around one of the fundamental keywords of politics: “conflict”. We conceive conflicts as constellations of knowledge and power, in which diverse actors are gathered around values, meanings and practices. The complexity of current policy issues and the institutional ambiguity create a demand for new forms of dealing with conflicts. They also invite us to study formats, in which the meaning of expertise and citizen participation can be renegotiated in performative manners.

Rearticulating policy settings along the relation between experts and publics is one of the main challenges of current research on democracy, governance and policy practices. Actors increasingly establish their positions through argumentations or performances, while the increased need for public acknowledgment recasts the issue of citizen’s participation or the framing of “experts”. These ideas are not entirely new: interpretive policy analysts have investigated mechanisms through which knowledge becomes the central device of power, creates institutions and governs them and/or legitimizes agendas of policy actors. In a similar vein, STS scholars have shown that scientific knowledge can legitimize political agendas or block them. Towards that end, they have investigated, how “experts” get their status and how they shape and are shaped by “publics”. By debating and analyzing the shape of diverse “publics”, they have also launched the question of whose knowledge counts as legitimate in specific time and place.

In the last decades, questions like these have regained the interest in both policy analysis and STS. How do we think about the study of conflicts through interpretive lenses? What aspects do we consider both as analysts and practitioners, when facing conflicts and controversies in environmental, urban, planning or health care policies? In how far do the current policy debates force us to rethink, what we mean by “political” and “politics”? What is the role or function of policy analysis and analysts in times of multiple crises? These are some of the pending issues that will be addressed at the IPA conference 2013.

We therefore welcome proposals for panels that reconsider the relationship between publics and experts and engage one or more of the following themes:

  • Questioning of traditional models of government, administration and policy-making in response to the relationship between experts and publics.
  • Theoretical reflections on the ontological dimension of a “conflict”: investigating the meaning of “politics” and “the political”.
  • The intersection of STS approaches with particular theoretical or philosophical approach (e.g. pragmatism, hermeneutics, post-structuralism, etc.).
  • The role of performativity and engagement in policymaking and democratic governance
  • Case studies from particular policy issue arenas that deal with “conflict” (e.g. the new challenges of environmental politics; bio-politics; local governance; asylum or immigration policy; food policy; urban and regional planning; issues of risk and novelty).
  • Interpretive perspectives on community conflict resolution practices; policy evaluation; leadership; network organizations; and other public management questions.
  • The relationship between practitioners and policy analysis.
  • Clarification of approaches in use (e.g. varieties of discourse analysis or narrative analyses; the role of rhetoric and metaphor, the role of arguments, the role of emotions).
  • Methodological issues in doing critical policy analysis (e.g. reflexivity in policy analytic practices; getting, and using, feedback from ‘informants’; issues in using new recording technologies; data collection and analysis; evaluating software programs).

Panel proposals should have no more than 500 words and should contain a theme, a rationale for the session, and a brief discussion of its contribution to the IPA community. Proposals should list a chairperson and names of all organizers of the panel, including institutional affiliations and (electronic) addresses. Panel proposals should be based on the assumption of 1½-hour time slots with fifteen minutes per presentation.

Please submit your panel proposal at by 30th November 2012

Note: After the notification about acceptance of the panel, a call for papers will be launched, to which scholars can respond. A limited number of free-floating papers will be accepted.


General information on IPA 2013

Interpretive research in the study of politics represents a leading challenge to positivism and scientism in the name of a methodological pluralism that is sensitive to meaning, historical and social context, and the importance of human subjectivity. Important revisions of policy analysis in its linguistic, argumentative or practice turns have promoted recent research in the field. These concepts and streams have shown to which extent politics and policy practices are governed and shaped by discourse.

The Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna together with the Life-Science-Governance Research Platform (LSG), the Austrian Political Science Association (ÖGPW) Institute of Forest, Environmental, and Natural Resource Policy at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) hosts the 8th International Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) conference under the title “Societies in Conflict: Experts, Publics and Democracy”.

The IPA conference is an annual meeting of researchers and practitioners from around the world. Its 8th continuation gives a special focus to the intersection of policy analysis with Science and Technology Studies (STS) by highlighting the relation between publics and experts around one of the fundamental keywords of politics: “conflict”. How do we think of the study of conflicts through interpretive lenses? What are current societal challenges of politics and how do these challenges shape the general understanding of democracy, expertise and power? What implications can we derive for policy analysis, when investigating conflicts and controversies in environmental, urban, or health care policies? How are these implications handled in the field of science and technology studies, and what can policy analysis learn from this scholarly work?

The IPA plenary sessions and panels are aimed at rethinking and debating the theory and practice of different methods of interpretation and critical explanation in policy analysis, in particular the relation of policy expertise to publics and democratic governance.


Anna Durnová & Herbert Gottweis

On behalf of the IPA 2013 Organisation Board


Call for Panels and Papers: PSA Annual Conference, Cardiff 2013

We would like to call for Panels and Papers for the Intepretive Political Science specialist group at the 63rd PSA Annual Conference, Cardiff 25-27 March 2013. Panels may be on any topic related to interpretive political science, including methodology panels.

To propose a panel, please send us a description of the panel topic along with the names of between three and four presenters, including the following information:

  • Contact details of convenor, chair, discussant and paper-givers
  • Panel title and individual paper titles
  • Short description of panel and paper abstracts (maximum 200 words)

You may also propose a single paper, which we will attempt to place in an appropriate panel. For further details, see the conference website:

The deadline for submission is 14 October 2012, however we encourage you to submit proposals ahead of this date.

The group will also offer a prize for the best paper by a postgraduate student. The papers will be judged by the two group convenors and one other member, and the prize will be the cost of registration and dinner for the following year’s PSA conference.

Please contact the convenors with panel and paper proposals, or any other queries, and we look forward to seeing you in Cardiff.

Best regards,
Nick Turnbull, Email:

Rod Rhodes, Email:


Postgraduate Prize Winner 2012 – Harry Annison

I am pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural prize for best postgraduate student paper in Interpretive Political Science at the 2012 Annual Conference, Belfast, is Harry Annison.

Harry presented an excellent paper on criminology, ‘The People’s Politics? The Role of “Public Opinion” in the Creation of the IPP Sentence’.

Harry’s profile can be found here. His prize is the registration and dinner costs for next year’s conference in Cardiff.

Belfast 2012 Panels

The Group will hold four panels at the PSA Annual Conference, Belfast 2012:

I. Continental philosophy in interpretive political studies
Chair: Anna Durnová
Discussant: James Martin
Session: Session 6 (Wednesday 4 April 2012, 14:00-15:30)
Room: Grand 4
Integrating Institutional and Critical Theories to Advance Public Policy Making
Ajnesh Prasad and Marianna Fotaki
‘What exists in reality’ or the (epistemological) means to an end? Competing conceptions of ontology in political science
Liam Stanley
Problematological constructivism: an alternative foundation for political analysis
Nick Turnbull

II. Narrative Policy Analysis Revisited
Chair: Mathias Delori
Discussant: Anna Durnova
Session: Session 7 (Wednesday 4 April 2012, 16:00-17:30)
Room: Copenhagen 1
Narrating impact assessments in the European Union
Claudio Radaelli and Claire Dunlop
Policy Narratives and Narrative Strategies in Policy Analysis: The Case of Greek Pension Reform (1990-2002)
Eleni Xiarchogiannopoulou
As above, so below: narrative salience and side effects of national innovation systems
Frédéric Claisse and Pierre Delvenne
Understanding public policies as polyphonic narratives
Mathias Delori

III. The Politics of Financial Crises: Crises Narratives in Comparative Perspective
Chair: Robert Jessop
Discussant: Alan Finlayson
Session: Session 10 (Thursday 5 April 2012, 13:30-15:00)
Room: Copenhagen 2
Adjusting Imbalances. Crisis Narratives in the German Financial Press
Amelie Kutter and Robert Jessop
‘Let’s get rid of them all.’ ‘We are fantastic’. Crisis narratives and the politics of financial crisis management in Argentina and Uruguay 2001-2002
Francisco Panizza
Cooling out the Marks: The Ideology and Politics of the Financial Crisis, UK
Jason Glynos and Robin Klimecki
A Cultural Political Economy of the Global Financial Crisis: Representing Crisis in the British Press
Michael Farrelly and Veronika Koller

IV. Interpretive Political Science
Chair: Laura Graham
Session: Session 10 (Thursday 5 April 2012, 13:30-15:00)
Room: Dublin 2
Psycho-Governance, Interpretive Policy and the Application of Nudge Theory in the UK Polity
Mike Marinetto and Rhys Andrews
Alias Smith and James: Towards an intersubjective account of individual agency in IPE
Simon Glaze

Welcome to the PSA Interpretive Political Science Specialist Group website

Welcome to the website of the Interpretive Politics Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association.

You can find information here about the activities of the group, including conferences, workshops, and recent member publications. The site also provides links to other interpretive politics groups around the world.

If you would like to post a news item to the site, such as announcing a Call for Papers or new publication, please contact the administrator, Dr Nick Turnbull:

Nick Turnbull