Introduction: Interpreting Governance, High Politics, and Public Policy
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This chapter takes issue with two sentences in Bevirs and Rhodes's recent work which crystallise the central claims of interpretivism. Bevir and Rhodes charge those who disagree with their claims with modernism, institutionalism, structuralism, and foundationalism. Bevirs and Rhodes's accounts of life in the British civil service are less free from structuralist explanation than they claim. Their version of interpretivism acknowledges the influence of other people on a persons beliefs and desires, both informally and by overt persuasion, by recognising intersubjective sources of beliefs and desires. They speak of the common beliefs of civil servants, and their explanation of how people acquire occupational norms the framework of the acceptable appears to acknowledge socialisation processes. Bevirs and Rhodes's dogma seems plausible only because it is bolstered by another straw man assertion: that the modernist empiricism used by other political scientists, and specifically their willingness to ascribe causal effects to factors or structures beyond peoples subjective mental and intersubjective social lives.