In this chapter, the primary emphasis is on the interpretive or ‘the problem of meaning’ (Fullan 2001: 8) – the hermeneutics of policy, although, as you will see, as the chapter progresses the role of the discursive becomes more prominent. These facets of policy cannot be separated out. As we have sought to make clear already, our conceptualisation of policy enactments draws upon and relates together three constituent aspects of the messy reality of school life. These aspects – material, interpretive and discursive – taken together make up a version of ‘material semiotics’, which as Law (2007: 2) puts it ‘are better understood as a toolkit for telling interesting stories about, and interfering in’ the webs of social relations and relations of power that produce and circumscribe policy and practices in schools. None of these aspects is, on its own, sufficient as a description of policy and practices: all three are necessary. Each opens up possibilities and introduces limits to possibility in conceptualising the policy process. Taken together these aspects, and the relevant theoretical resources in each case, can provide an account of how policy and practice get done in schools. We tackle ‘meaning’ in two ways. First, by developing a heuristic distinction between interpretation and translation – these are key parts of the policy process and of the articulation of policy with practice, which are suffused by relations of power.1 Second, by outlining a typology of ‘policy actors’ and the forms of ‘policy work’ in which they are involved. Again, this typology is heuristic and indicative rather than exhaustive. The limits of space make it impossible to explore all of the complexities and nuances involved in policy enactments in schools. These are starting points which rest upon the interplay between theory and data and which adumbrate an agenda for further research.
Interpretation and translation