Interpretive Research Design

Course Description: 

Interpretive research is a form of situated knowledge production. It puts context and meaning-making at the centre of research engagement. This seminar accordingly focuses on the study of politics ‘from below’ and ‘from within’ to make sense of power relations in particular political settings. It will help plan for projects which require investigation into the meanings of specific concepts and political practices to illuminate wider-ranging or more theoretical issues.

The methodological aim of this seminar is twofold. First, it explains the vocabulary, processes, and criteria of excellence in interpretive research. The sessions will cover in particular components of interpretive design, including formulating interpretive research questions, abduction as a logic of inquiry, conceptualisation from context, casing in contrast to case selection, and reflexivity. We will also introduce the idea of fieldwork with interpretive sensibility and, depending on time constraints, interpretive data analysis. Second, the seminar simultaneously engages interpretive research practice by analysing published interpretive scholarship, sharing research experience, and discussing work in progress of the participants. 

This is a 1 credit course, there will be 6 sessions.


While no extensive prerequisite knowledge of interpretive tradition is required, general familiarity with, openness to, and curiosity about different ways of doing research are necessary for fruitful and inclusive participation.