Paperback / softback
December 21, 2001
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
.8 Pounds (US)
$29.95 USD, £22.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Taking Language Seriously

The Narrative Foundations of Public Administration Research

The logic of research in public administration, argues Jay D. White, may be more like that of storytelling than of conventional social science research. In Taking Language Seriously, he examines the linguistic, discursive, and narrative foundations of public administration research and develops a narrative theory of knowledge development and use for the field.

White builds his case for this narrative theory by showing how research on complex problems is grounded in language and discourse. He then explains how a variety of recent developments in philosophy and the humanities—positivism, postpositivism, hermeneutics, critical and legal theory, postmodernism, and poststructuralism—can contribute to our understanding of public administration research.

Focusing on the logical structures of three modes of research—explanatory, interpretive, and critical—White shows how each is equally legitimate, depending on the nature of the research questions.

This comprehensive yet clear discussion of the philosophical foundations of research in public administration advances an alternative theory of knowledge development that will be valuable for everyone in fields seeking to affect social, political, economic, and organizational change.

About the Author

Jay D. White is a professor of public administration at the University of Nebraska, Omaha and coeditor of Research in Public Administration: Reflections on Theory and Practice (Sage Publications, 1994). He is editor of the annual, Research in Public Administration.


"This serious, demanding book provides a valuable service to advanced students of public administration and their professors. . . . [Jay D. White's] success is due primarily to his impressive command of the literature in [public administration and the philosophy of science] and his skillful integration of this literature into his overall argument."—American Political Science Review


"Challenges public administration scholars to recognize the philosophical underpinnings of our work and to produce research that deepens our understanding of the human interactions that define our field. Long overdue, this work will lead public administration into the interpretive turn and toward a more critical perspective on the role of administration in society."—Danny L. Balfour, associate professor and director, School of Public and Nonprofit Administration, Grand Valley State University

"Provides a clearly written, useful introduction to the philosophical foundations of public administration theory. Readers will learn from every page of this well-organized and judicious work."—John Forester, professor and chair, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

"An imaginative and important piece of work that advances our thinking about research in public administration. . . . must reading for any serious scholar or student in public affairs."—Curtis Ventris, professor of political science and natural resources policy, The University of Vermont

Georgetown University Press

9780878408788 : taking-language-seriously-white
Paperback / softback
232 Pages
$29.95 USD

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