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Embracing impressionism: revealing the brush strokes of interpretive research

Embracing impressionism: revealing the brush strokes of interpretive research
Embracing impressionism: revealing the brush strokes of interpretive research
For its most prominent proponents, interpretive research is emphatically a ‘systematic’ craft; though iterative and creative, if practiced expertly it enables the researcher to progress towards a more coherent, comprehensive and convincing interpretation of both the political phenomenon under investigation and its scholarly significance. We argue that this process is neither as systematic in nature nor as satisfying in execution as such a characterization implies. Instead, drawing on our own experiences of conducting this sort of research, we argue that the craft is inherently an ‘impressionistic’ one; it entails the deliberate and at times painful creation of a stylized and simplified account. By necessity, doing interpretation means glossing over complexity or presenting a partial representation in order to say something meaningful to academic and practitioner audiences. We argue that instead of shying away from the impressionistic nature of their work, interpretive researchers like us should embrace it, and that doing so will buttress this type of research from criticism, enhance its connection to the policy world, and strengthen its appeal from within.
interpretive practice, systematic, impressionism, reflexivity
1946-0171
216-225
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2

Boswell, John and Corbett, Jack (2015) Embracing impressionism: revealing the brush strokes of interpretive research. Critical Policy Studies, 9 (2), 216-225. (doi:10.1080/19460171.2014.971039).

Record type: Article

Abstract

For its most prominent proponents, interpretive research is emphatically a ‘systematic’ craft; though iterative and creative, if practiced expertly it enables the researcher to progress towards a more coherent, comprehensive and convincing interpretation of both the political phenomenon under investigation and its scholarly significance. We argue that this process is neither as systematic in nature nor as satisfying in execution as such a characterization implies. Instead, drawing on our own experiences of conducting this sort of research, we argue that the craft is inherently an ‘impressionistic’ one; it entails the deliberate and at times painful creation of a stylized and simplified account. By necessity, doing interpretation means glossing over complexity or presenting a partial representation in order to say something meaningful to academic and practitioner audiences. We argue that instead of shying away from the impressionistic nature of their work, interpretive researchers like us should embrace it, and that doing so will buttress this type of research from criticism, enhance its connection to the policy world, and strengthen its appeal from within.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 3 January 2015
Keywords: interpretive practice, systematic, impressionism, reflexivity
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 376593
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/376593
ISSN: 1946-0171
PURE UUID: 19141a2a-64ae-4424-9365-bcf3990b9eb7
ORCID for John Boswell: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3018-8791
ORCID for Jack Corbett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2005-7162

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 May 2015 13:48
Last modified: 20 Mar 2020 01:33

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Author: John Boswell ORCID iD
Author: Jack Corbett ORCID iD

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