Programme PhD Term IV Academic Year 2021-22

Course title Interpretive Research Methods Area Public Systems Credits 1.50

Prof. Navdeep Mathur,
Prof. Rajnish Raj

Course Description & Objectives
This is an advanced seminar on interpretive research methods. These methods are explicitly concerned with meaning making in social science research. These methods depart significantly in their reliance on logical positivism, a philosophical orientation that is assumed to ground the physical and natural sciences and that has sought to also be the dominant orientation in the social sciences. Interpretive methods draw instead on the philosophical orientations of hermeneutics and phenomenology. They are widely practiced in public policy, organizational studies and management, political science, sociology and other inter-disciplinary fields such as law and criminal justice, international business, environmental studies, science and technology studies to name a few. These methods are not to be mistaken for ‘impressionistic’ review of speech or text. Rather they provide systematic and rigorous empirical strategies to conduct research of social phenomena and policy and organizational dilemmas.

This course will be useful for those who seek to systematically analyze human processes of meaning making, in creating concepts, categories, tools and techniques in difference areas of research.


Using a seminar format of careful reading and discussions, individual and group exercises related to analysis of participants’ own selected research areas, and in-depth written analyses, this course will explore the application of interpretive methods and their logical form of data collection and analysis, explanation and causality, rigor, generalizability, validity, reliability and procedural transparency. Participants will use empirical strategies derived from the readings and discussions to write an interpretive-empirical paper.

Evaluation: Research design – 20%, Fieldwork diary - 20%, Methods-position Statement - 10%, Final Paper - 50%