The Rhetorics of Policy Analysis

J. A. Throgmorton. 1991. Policy Sciences 24: 153-179.

This paper claims that policy analysis is inherently rhetorical, that it cannot be fully understood apart from the audiences to which it is directed and the styles in which it is communicated. Defining rhetoric as persuasive discourse within and between interpretive communities, I argue that policy analysts are embedded in a complex rhetorical situation created by the interaction of three primary audiences (scientists, politicians, and lay advocates), each of which has its own normal discourse and agreed-upon conventions of persuasion, and that failure to persuade any one of these audiences will cause analysts to appear incompetent, impractical or illegitimate. To support and illustrate this claim 1 reconstruct the theoretical literature about policy analysis in rhetorical terms, then review events that occurred at Love Canal, New York, in the late 1970s. I conclude by suggesting that policy analysts need to ‘actively mediate’ the policy discourse between scientists, politicians, and advocates.

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2 Responses to The Rhetorics of Policy Analysis

  1. The introduction was very good but it has no substance in regards of backing up your claims.

    I argue that policy analysts are embedded in a complex rhetorical situation created by the interaction of three primary audiences (scientists, politicians, and lay advocates), each of which has its own normal discourse and agreed-upon conventions of persuasion, and that failure to persuade any one of these audiences will cause analysts to appear incompetent, impractical or illegitimate. To support and illustrate this claim 1 reconstruct the theoretical literature about policy analysis in rhetorical terms, then review events that occurred at Love Canal, New York, in the late 1970s.

    Is there another page to this blog because it appears to be a very interesting subject.

    • jthrog65 says:

      Gregory,

      Thanks for the comment. The short post is an abstract of a longer article that appears in a scholarly journal. The reference (and the backing for the claims contained in the abstract) can be found in: J. A. Throgmorton. 1991. Policy Sciences 24: 153-179.

      Again, thanks for reading and commenting on the piece. If you have a chance to read the article, I’d enjoy hearing what you think.

      Jim

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