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Interpreting Politics
  Debating the Foundations
  and Objectives of Political 

Andrew Davison and
Mark N. Hoffman 
  368 pages / paper / $59.95
  2019 / ISBN: 978-1-59738-105-5
  Now available!

Table of contents and sample chapters
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Interpreting Politics introduces students to the central concepts and goals of contemporary approaches to the study of politics: scientific empiricism/ positivism, hermeneutics/interpretivism, critical theory; scientific realism; discourse analysis; and postcolonial/subaltern studies. Their contrasting presuppositions, aims, and models of explanation are explained and illustrated in a readily accessible, conversational style. Analytical exercises and questions for reflection at the end of each chapter invite students to apply the central terms of each approach by constructing explanations out of their own studies and experience. Written by authors with substantial experience teaching political analysis at both large universities and small liberal arts colleges, Interpreting Politics is an indispensable resource and guide for students of politics at all levels.

From the pre-publication reviews:

 “In recent years political scientists have devoted increasing attention to the teaching of qualitative and mixed methods. Andrew Davison and Mark Hoffman’s Interpreting Politics is an excellent new textbook that centers on the methodological and ethical value of interpretivist approaches. It is smart, well-written and organized, and easy to read, and I highly recommend it.”
   Jeffrey C. Isaac, Indiana University, Bloomington


“In Interpreting Politics: Debating the Foundations and Objectives of Political Analysis, Andrew Davison and Mark Hoffman offer a masterful and much needed review of the methodological plurality in the study of politics. Six chapters meticulously engage with the main terms and rationale of approaches that rarely meet in the same book--scientific empiricism (or positivism), hermeneutics (or interpretivism), critical theory, scientific realism, discourse analysis, postcolonial and subaltern analysis, and post-interpretive approaches. They do so in a very accessible and engaging way. The fundamental ideas and concepts that shore up well entrenched methodological camps (e.g., nomological explanations, causality, reification, deconstruction or intersubjectivity) are teased out by placing them in their broader theoretical and empirical context. Timely examples and questions help instructors and students go beyond the silos of singular explanatory models by placing distinct methods under the light of others. While for many methodological pluralism often means prioritizing one method while merely supplementing its dominance with others, Interpreting Politics fills a critical gap by questioning epistemological assumptions, conceptual measurements and practical implications of the main methods of politics, making it a must read for students of politics who want to turn the extant methodological and regional dominance to a constructive pluralistic conversation.” 

   Sultan Tepe, University of Illinois at Chicago


“In providing a comprehensive, up-to-date study of the main approaches to political inquiry, Davison and Hoffman offer an excellent, much-needed volume that provides students with a vital set of conceptual, theoretical, and critical tools for understanding and analyzing politics.”

   Darren Walhof, Grand Valley State University


"Interpreting Politics breaks the conventions of textbooks for introducing students to the scope and methods of political science. By addressing the reader directly, it breaks the fourth wall between learner and learned, enlisting the reader in the action underway. Interpreting Politics is an invaluable text for teachers who want to fully engage with their students in debating the foundations and objectives of political science."

   Barbara Cruikshank, University of Massachusetts - Amherst


“This book is an outstanding introduction to the foundations of the major approaches to the study of politics from scientific empiricism to postcolonial and subaltern inquiry. Each chapter presents a lucid, insightful, sophisticated yet easy to read, and penetrating critical analysis of them with useful study questions at the end. Davison and Hoffman’s book should be of great interest to students not just of political science but also of all social sciences and humanities.”

   Gürol Irzik, Sabancý University


“Andrew Davison’s and Mark Hoffman’s Interpreting Politics is an incredibly accessible, thorough and enjoyable text. The authors embrace diversity in the study of political science and show how the discipline can and should be taught. Not only they outline the various approaches spanning from positivism, interpretivism, critical theory, Marxism to subaltern and post-interpretivism, they engage with their predispositions, logics and key assumptions. Engaging everyday political puzzles they show us what is at stake in each approach to politics and teach us how to think in that way. This book is a real innovation in the way core political science is taught. It can be of immense help to students (to whom this book directly speaks), teachers and anyone interested in learning about political thinking. This book takes political science outside its narrowly defined methodologies and logics of thinking and shows how else politics can be taught, and how diverse interdisciplinary knowledge can maintain its ‘scientific rigour.’”

   Andreja Zevnik, University of Manchester 

“Are you puzzled about how analysts of politics can look at the same political situation and come to different conclusions? You have come to the right place! Davison and Hoffman will guide you through several different ways of interpreting politics, as they have guided generations of students (including me!). More importantly, they will show you what each way teaches us, and why we need to be able to think in these different ways.”

   Arjun Chowdhury, University of British Columbia