Articulating discursive and materialist conceptions of practice in the logics approach to critical policy analysis

Karen West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article it is argued that while Glynos and Howarth’s logics of critical explanation (LCE) offers an important and promising contribution to critical policy analysis, it, along with other approaches that focus on the meaning of social action, faces a growing challenge in the form of a so-called new materialist turn in social and political theory.
The article argues that there is much to be gained for the logics approach in paying closer attention to the materiality of practices in terms not only of lending greater clarity to the conception and role of social practices in the logics approach but also in enabling it fully to deliver on its critical ambition. The article explores an alternative materialist approach to the study of social practices, which hails from the post-actor–networktheory tradition and which has ontological affinities with post-structuralism. The article begins with a brief analysis of the new materialist turn in its various guises. It then critically examines the logics approach, and, in particular its conception of practice.
It then explores an alternative materialist and ethnographic reading of practice, focusing on medical and care practices. It concludes with an examination of the implications for a more materialist conception of practices for the LCE’s broad deconstructive, psychoanalytic and onto-political ambitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-433
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Policy Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • logics of critical explanation
  • new materialist turn
  • post structuralism
  • material semiotic relationality


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