Table of Contents

Handbook of Critical Policy Studies

Handbook of Critical Policy Studies

Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Edited by Frank Fischer, Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnová and Michael Orsini

Critical policy studies, as illustrated in this Handbook, challenges the conventional approaches public policy inquiry. But it offers important innovations as well, in particular its focus on discursive politics, policy argumentation and deliberation, and interpretive modes of analysis.

Chapter 3: In pursuit of usable knowledge: critical policy analysis and the argumentative turn

Frank Fischer

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance, research methods, qualitative research methods


This chapter will begin with a short history of the emergence of the argumentative turn in critical policy studies from the 1970s forward. Beginning with the argumentative turn, it will explain more specifically what the argumentative approach has meant for standard models of policy analysis, and in particular what makes it critical. Along the way it will show how the perspective has evolved over two decades, moving from argumentation to deliberation, discourse, citizens panels, participatory expertise, interpretation, a recognition of the importance of emotions in policy deliberative processes, among others. A four-level model of policy discourse will be presented, with particular reference to the limitations of the advocacy coalition framework. Before concluding, the chapter will briefly discuss the relationship of argumentation and discourse to politics with an emphasis on policy change.

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