Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Interpretive theory poses a set of answers to the question, how do we know what we know about the social world? Interpretive theory has had a long and multifarious history, which can be summarized as an orientation, approach, or method in political studies that arose in opposition to various positivistic, empiricist, in short, natural scientific outlooks within the human sciences. Interpretive theory has drawn from many sources and traditions, and its history and current practice are open to interpretation. Interpretivists typically go beyond the accepted view that everyone interprets to gain understanding and give explanation, or that interpretation is one among several approaches or types of methods by which human scientists can acquire knowledge. They stand out in arguing that the objects studied by human scientists are themselves interpretations, and therefore require us to grasp the meanings they embody. This concern with meanings, however, equally sets interpretive theorists apart from ...