The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning

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Public policy is made of language. Whether in written or oral form, argument is central to all parts of the policy process. As simple as this insight appears, its implications for policy analysis and planning are profound. Drawing from recent work on language and argumentation and referring to such theorists as Wittgenstein, Habermas, Toulmin, and Foucault, these essays explore the interplay of language, action, and power in both the practice and the theory of policy-making.
The contributors, scholars of international renown who range across the theoretical spectrum, emphasize the political nature of the policy planner's work and stress the role of persuasive arguments in practical decision making. Recognizing the rhetorical, communicative character of policy and planning deliberations, they show that policy arguments are necessarily selective, both shaping and being shaped by relations of power. These essays reveal the practices of policy analysts and planners in powerful new ways--as matters of practical argumentation in complex, highly political environments. They also make an important contribution to contemporary debates over postempiricism in the social and policy sciences.

Contributors. John S. Dryzek, William N. Dunn, Frank Fischer, John Forester, Maarten Hajer, Patsy Healey, Robert Hoppe, Bruce Jennings, Thomas J. Kaplan, Duncan MacRae, Jr., Martin Rein, Donald Schon, J. A. Throgmorton

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book has the potential to be important in the field, the leading statement for a movement. It does not call merely for words to balance the statistics, as in the tired debate between the humanities and the sciences. On the contrary, it argues that the words and the statistics are all part of the argument. The contributors apply theories of judgment ranging from classical rhetoric to modern theories of narrative to see the judging whole. The book proposes a new way to see old debates. . . . In short, the book is excellent."—Donald N. McCloskey, University of Iowa
A dozen studies contribute to the emerging argumentation approach to understanding policy analysis and planning, considering both practical and political aspects of argument without trying to reduce the whole profession to a practice in textual interpretation. Among the topics are discourse coalitions and the institutionalization of practice in the case of acid rain in Great Britain, the priority of practical judgement, and guidelines for consensual versus adversarial discourse. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822313724
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 327
  • Lexile: 1430L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Fischer is Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University in Newark and a member of the Bloustein Graduate School of Planning and Public Policy on the New Brunswick campus.

John Forester is Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University.

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Table of Contents

Editors' Introduction

I. The Argumentative Turn: Policy Institutions and Practices

Policy Discourse and the Politics of Washington Think Tanks / Frank Fischer

Discourse Coalitions and the Institutionalization of Practice: The Case of Acid Rain in Great Britain / Maarten A. Hajer

Political Judgment and the Policy Cycle: The Case of Ethnicity Policy Arguments in the Netherlands / Robert Hoppe

Counsel and Consensus: Norms of Argument in Health Policy / Bruce Jennings

II. Analytical Concepts: Frames, Tropes, and Narratives

Survey Research as Rhetorical Trope: Electric Power Planning Arguments in Chicago / J. A. Throgmorton

Reframing Policy Discourse / Martin Rein and Donald Schon

Reading Policy Narratives: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends / Thomas J. Kaplan

Learning from Practice Stories: The Priority of Practical Judgment / John Forester

III. Theoretical Perspectives

Policy Analysis and Planning: From Science to Argument / John S. Dryzek

Planning Through Debate: The Communicative Turn in Planning Theory / Patsy Healey

Policy Reforms as Arguments / William N. Dunn

Guidelines for Policy Discourse: Consensual versus Adversarial / Duncan MacRae, Jr.



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