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Governance and Interpretation: What are the Implications of Postfoundationalism?

Abstract

Interpretive approaches to governance include poststructuralism, constructivist institutionalism, practical philosophy, and democratic pluralism. All of these interpretive approaches share a focus on meanings, sympathy for bottom-up studies, and an emphasis on contingency. All of them also confront theoretical issues that have arisen from the postfoundational turn within philosophy. They face questions about the nature of the meanings we study, the possibilities for recentring given an emphasis on diversity, and the normative and policy implications of their approach. Although poststructuralists have made the running in addressing these questions, their answers are ambiguous or even misleading. They often appear, in particular, mistakenly to renounce situated agency along with autonomy. This essay seeks to provide alternative answers to these theoretical questions and thereby to provide a more robust theoretical framework for interpretive approaches to governance.

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