Any piece of policy analysis must be appropriate to the context of its intended use. Social science often fails as policy analysis due to insensitivity to context. This paper explores a number of different modes of policy analysis to determine the circumstances in which the application of each is appropriate. It is argued that each mode is appropriate only under a fairly limited set of conditions; many of the problems policy analysis encounters are a result of attempts to apply a mode outside its niche. Greater use should be made of what is developed here as a hermeneutic model of policy analysis, appropriate in a residual set of conditions which none of the traditional models of policy analysis copes with adequately.