Interpreting facts, verifying interpretations: public policy, truth and evidence

Kisby, Ben (2011) Interpreting facts, verifying interpretations: public policy, truth and evidence. Public Policy and Administration, 26 (1). pp. 107-127. ISSN 0952-0767

Full content URL: http://ppa.sagepub.com/content/26/1/107.abstract

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Interpreting facts, verifying interpretations: public policy, truth and evidence

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Abstract

This article reflects on the relationship between evidence and interpretation in policy-making and policy analysis. It proceeds by critically analysing both David Blunkett’s understanding (as articulated when holding office in the UK
Labour government) of the concept of ‘evidence-based policy-making’ and three noteworthy, alternative approaches to understanding the links between facts, evidence, values and interpretive framework – Keith Dowding’s rational choice approach, Alan Finlayson’s rhetorical political analysis and Mark Bevir and Rod Rhodes’s narrative-based form of interpretivism. It argues that all four approaches are underpinned by generalised, fixed claims about the nature of
these relationships, when in fact no such generalisable claims are possible. In so doing, it develops an alternative, distinctive understanding of these relationships as changeable and context-specific, bringing into focus more clearly the contested nature of the theoretical assumptions underpinning particular policyrelated claims and to the continuous need for political argument – on the basis of facts, evidence, values and interpretation – by both policy makers and analysts.

Keywords:evidence based/informed policy making, interpretivism, rational choice, rhetoric
Subjects:L Social studies > L430 Public Policy
L Social studies > L200 Politics
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:3979
Deposited On:10 Feb 2011 17:30

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