Call for Papers & Panels – ECPR 2018 Section – Deliberative Policy Analysis: Looking Back and Looking Forward

The Standing Group Theoretical Perspectives in Policy Analysis is happy to announce the following important Section at the upcoming ECPR general conference in Hamburg, August 22-25, 2018.

The Section is jointly organised by the Interpretive Policy Analysis group (IPA) and ECPR Standing Group Theoretical Perspectives in Policy Analysis

Please submit your panel and paper proposals by 15 February 2018 herePanel proposals should be sent to the Section conveners (,,, by 8 February at latest for feedback and endorsement.

Section S19: Deliberative Policy Analysis: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Section Chair: Tamara Metze (University of Wageningen)

Section Co-Chair: Hendrik Wagenaar (King’s College London)

It has been 15 years since Hajer and Wagenaar published Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society (Cambridge University Press, 2003) (DPA). The book became one of the most cited books in interpretive policy analysis. The central argument of the two editors was that the sociology of policymaking had changed and that this required a new kind of policy analysis. The conventional approach, as taught in many politics and policy departments, is loosely based on the policy cycle model, seeks authoritative knowledge by employing empiricist and often quantitative methods, and is allied with, and derives its legitimation from, a classical-modernist form of government in which large government bureaucracies headed by elected officials manage societal sectors. In contrast Hajer and Wagenaar described a decentred, highly pluralistic, unpredictable and often unknowable policy environment that limited the effectiveness of both governance and policy analysts. To address the lack of fit between the dominant epistemology at the time and the dynamic complexity of contemporary society, Hajer and Wagenaar suggested a deliberative policy analysis built on the three pillars of interpretation, practice-orientation and deliberation. The unstated assumption was that knowledge that is interpretive, pragmatic and obtained through deliberation is more valid and reliable and has a better chance to be accepted by policy makers.

Since the book’s publication, the development of the three pillars have moved in different directions; this workshop seeks to bring these three dimensions –  interpretation, deliberation, practice-orientation – into dialogue again. In hindsight DPA is not just an epistemological innovation. True to its pragmatist roots, DPA it also contains a progressive moral-political program. Its aims are not just the articulation of an approach to knowledge acquisition, but also to contribute to social, political and democratic transformation. Its pragmatist epistemology is interventionist and therefore intimately tied to an (actionable) methodology of co-producing inquiry and social intervention with all relevant stakeholders. As such, one of the goals of this workshop is to set into motion a process of reflection and writing to articulate, synthesize and develop the diversity of studies, theoretical statements and experiences in these three pillars into a more integrated statement of the nature and methods of DPA.

The Section is co-organized by Koen Bartels (Bangor University) and Katharina Paul (University of Vienna). With this Section, we seek to challenge DPA out of its narrow epistemological framework and to open it up for a range of creative possibilities where systematic inquiry goes hand in hand with social and political intervention. At the same time, we invite critical debate on how situations of co-creation of knowledge and of policies in participatory policy research, such as action research, citizen science, research by design, living labs, or communities of practice – affect the nature and quality of inquiry, how value-driven policy inquiry works out (or not) in practice, and reflections on the role and positionality of the analyst in such DPA-inspired modes of inquiry. Importantly, we invite Panels and Papers that aim to integrate two or more of the three pillars of DPA in innovative ways. We welcome Panels and Papers on the philosophical and conceptual foundations of DPA, on reviews of DPA, including its challenges and critics, on the application of DPA in different substantive policy fields, and on comparative applications of DPA. 

A more extensive description of the Section, and the possibility to submit panels and papers can be found here.

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