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Politics, Practices and Power

28 June 2011

CPLAN IPA conference audience WEBHundreds of international social scientists visited Cardiff last week for a three-day conference exploring the interpretive approaches to policy making.

Interpretive Policy Analysis asks questions about how people or communities experience a policy, how policies interact with identities, beliefs and emotions, and how this affects the working of democracy. Whereas traditional policy analysis assesses the costs and benefits of a particular policy, the interpretive approach considers the plurality of values, identities and communities, and how abstract policies play out locally and in everyday practices.

The conference was hosted by the School of City and Regional Planning, and supported by the University’s ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability & Society (BRASS) and the Sustainable Places Research Institute.

Dr Peter Feindt, Conference Chair and Reader at the School of City and Regional Planning, said: "The conference set out to explore new places and horizons for interpretive policy analysis. This was evident in the keynote addresses and roundtables discussions, where major political and social questions of our times, such as climate change, globalisation or the future of democracy, were addressed."

CPLAN IPA conference WEBDr Peter Feindt with Professor Dvora Yanow, one of the keynote speakers at the conference

The sixth annual conference, entitled ‘Discursive Spaces. Politics, Practices and Power’ welcomed more than 350 delegates from five continents and covered more than 100 sessions.

For the first time, the conference featured a pre-conference course on Interpretive Policy Analysis for 40 PhD students and early career researchers. This full-day course offered advanced methodology sessions and skills training in methods like interviewing, political ethnography and discourse analysis with world leading experts in the field.

Dr Gillian Bristow, Deputy Head of the School of City and Regional Planning, said: "The School was delighted to host such an important international event and to have the opportunity to participate in discussing themes which are central to our scholarly interests.

"We are an interdisciplinary School with a critical interest in engaging questions of public policy and governance in our research and teaching. The conference was very stimulating and interesting and I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the chair and the organising committee for staging this event."

Themes covered at the conference included; sustainable development, emotions and feelings in policy, interpretive methods, globalisation, and interpreting the State.

Professor Ken Peattie, Director of BRASS, said: "The social and environmental challenges we face will not be met by relying on the technologies, business models, and approaches to governance that dominated during the late 20th century. There is an urgent need for fresh thinking about policy making and innovative research to feed into policy making processes."

Professor Terry Marsden, Director of the Sustainable Places Research Institute, said: "We were delighted to support the 6th IPA Conference, the themes of which resonated well with our vision to provide a new basis for sustainability science and to find solutions to the challenges of diminishing resources and climate change. As Director of the new Cardiff Graduate Centre I am particularly delighted that Cardiff hosted the first Pre-Conference Course in Interpretive Policy Analysis."

Related links

Sustainable Places Research Institute