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Research project

Blurring Genres

Project overview

With Mark Bevir, I developed an interpretive approach to the study of politics and government. This book is the fourth and latest in our joint publications.
The phrase ‘blurring genres’ refers to poaching the humanities for any theory and method useful in the study of politics. An anti-naturalist interpretivism is widespread in the humanities. It stresses the recovery of meaning, and it blurs genres. As Clifford Geertz argued ‘there has been an enormous amount of genre mixing in intellectual life’. ‘Social scientists have turned away from a laws and instances ideal of explanation towards a cases and interpretations one’. They draw on ‘analogies drawn from the humanities’ within which ‘society is less and less represented as an elaborate machine or quasi-organism and more as a serious game, a sidewalk drama, or a behavioural text’. The task is to recover the meaning of games, dramas, and texts and to tease out their consequences. We believe the task of blurring genres – of learning from the humanities – is an exciting challenge for political scientists. It takes us out of our comfort zone by asking us what we want to know and providing new ways of finding out. It is not about replacing but adding to the political scientists’ toolkit. It is about opening a conversation with the humanities that enlarges our organizing perspective and broadens our toolkit. So, we give ourselves license to poach in the humanities for theories, topics, and methods relevant to political studies. The book will have three sections. Part 1 provides both a recap of interpretive theory and its extension to cover the different genres in the Humanities. Part 2 illustrates the approach ‘in action’ with several case studies including, a thick description of the court politics of a British prime minister, and a personal essay on being a university manager. Part 3 explores the implications of our analysis beyond the academy for policymakers.
The book will be published in late 2024. Bevir, M. and Rhodes, R. A. W. Genres and Political Science (London and New York: Routledge


Lead researcher

Professor Roderick Rhodes DPhil, FAcSS, FASSA

Professor of Government (Research)

Research interests

  • Public Administration
  • Public Policy
  • Comparative Politics
Connect with Roderick

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs