Marx meets meaning: A critical encounter between historical materialism and interpretive policy analysis. A reply to Brand’s State, Context, Correspondence


  • Katharina T. Paul Universitaet Wien
  • Christian Haddad



Policy analysis, historical materialism, interpretivism, poststructuralism, policy knowledge


This article discusses historical materialist policy analysis (HMPA) as a novel approach in policy studies, and the ways in which it draws on elements of interpretive policy analysis (IPA). In our reply to Ulrich Brand’s recent proposal of such an approach in this journal, we particularly discuss two aspects from a poststructuralist interpretive perspective: First, we propose that HMPA and IPA feature divergent ontologies and epistemologies that are ultimately incommensurable. Second, addressing Brand’s concern with what he perceives to be a theoretical deficit in IPA, we clarify the concept of the state and its conceptual relationship to policy and policy knowledge. We conclude that, to further develop a non-functionalist policy analysis, HMPA scholarship may benefit from a more engaged reading of poststructuralist IPA.






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