Using the Historical Approach

Richard Hoefer

in Policy Creation and Evaluation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735198
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918560 | DOI:

Series: Pocket Guides to Social Work Research Methods

Using the Historical Approach

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The historical approach to policy analysis is described and applied to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Law. At its heart, the historical approach to policy analysis is the telling of a story based on credible sources. It is often qualitative, almost journalistic, in nature. Three approaches to historical analysis are presented: the hermeneutics approach, which examines in detail the leaders of countries and organizations to determine what they did and what they believed as policy was developed. The second approach is nomological. This looks for generalities in history, seeking to uncover “laws” of history to explain what occurred. The third approach discussed is “critical” analysis which sees everything as part of a set of changes to systems of social relationships and how people are dependent upon each other. Marxist and feminist scholars, despite their differences between each other, use a critical approach in their writing about social policy.

Keywords: policy analysis; historical approach; TANF; hermeneutics; nomological; critical analysis; social policy

Chapter.  8025 words. 

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