The starting point of Chapter 5 by Wagenaar consists of a paradox and an observation. The paradox is that the countless current initiatives with public participation or interactive governance do not necessarily result in an expansion or deepening of institutionalized liberal democracy. The related observation is that we cannot understand the full import of public participation in contemporary liberal-electoral democracy without taking its political economy into account. Wagenaar argues that an explanation for this observation and paradox can be found in the double hegemony of democratic elitism and everyday neoliberalism. What is this double hegemony and what can be done to overcome democratic impairment in the face of this double hegemony? Wagenaar elaborates these questions in his chapter. With regard to the latter, he proposes a strategy of ‘democratic transfer’, the transfer of democratic forms and practices that originate and flourish in the civic sphere to political society. This strategy consists of two steps: ‘redescription’ and ‘redesign’ of the relation between political elites and the public.
This chapter explores the radical epistemological claim of Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) that it provides a better kind of knowledge, knowledge with a better fit with society, than traditional empiricist policy analysis (EPA). While EPA takes an unreflexive, realist view of the categories of analysis and is oblivious to the meaning of the data, IPA presents a variety of critical functions. By foregrounding the target group’s narratives of the impact of the policy intervention on their lives, hermeneutic IPA is critical in the sense of confronting the policy maker’s assumptions of the world with the resistances that the world exerts on a policy intervention. This confrontation is an elementary act of critique and enlightenment. Discursive IPA is critical in the sense that it overcomes the cognitive, moral and practical confinement that is intrinsic to the captivity imposed by large, unnoticed cognitive-ideational frameworks that compromise our capacity for free, unfettered judgment and self-government. Dialogical IPA, finally, is critical in that it is not only aimed at critically diagnosing a situation but also, and always, at transforming it, at finding accommodations, workable solutions and possibilities for change. I conclude that in confronting assumptions with experience, facilitating collaborative forms of policy making, and setting up dialogues of practice and argument that are as inclusive as possible, IPA contributes to deepening democracy.