Notwithstanding the growing use of interpretive analysis in public administration and policy research, its fullest potential for evaluating intractable public conflict has yet to be tapped. We develop a mode of narrative analysis, partly based upon Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutics, that shows promise for analyzing public disputes. We illustrate this with a case study in Los Angeles involving a contentious proposal to inject recycled wastewater into the city's water supply. The analysis reveals that, by representing opposing interests with a simplistic narrative, the water industry's response has been superfluous. The latter assumes that impasse simply results from the public's lack of information, the logical response being an information dissemination campaign. We employ a hermeneutic approach to reveal a set of persistent issues that project proponents have hitherto failed to address. By respecting the inherent plurivocity and intertextuality of narrative, hermeneutics provides new inroads into controversial public issues. We close the discussion with implications for practice.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||22|
|Journal||Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory|
|State||Published - Oct 2012|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration