Interrogating Public Policy Theory
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Interrogating Public Policy Theory

A Political Values Perspective

Linda C. Botterill and Alan Fenna

This book questions the way policy making has been distanced from politics in prevailing theories of the policy process, and highlights the frequently overlooked ubiquity of values and values conflicts in politics and policy. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of current theories, reviews the illusions of rationalism in politics, and explores the way values are implicated throughout the democratic process, from voter choice to policy decisions. It argues that our understanding of public policy is enhanced by recognizing its intrinsically political and value-laden nature.
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Chapter 9: Values in policy debate

Linda C. Botterill and Alan Fenna


When policy is recognized as a contest of competing conceptions of the desirable, the role of persuasion in public policy debate becomes clear. Evidence is used strategically by policy actors in furthering their values goals and by policy makers in persuading citizens that they have made the correct choices, both in values terms and procedurally. The importance of language in policy debate has a venerable history dating back to Aristotle and his contemporaries who considered rhetorical deliberation as the essence of democracy. Interest in rhetoric waned with the Enlightenment but over the past fifty years or so, there has been renewed interest in the importance of rhetoric, framing and persuasion in politics and policy. These perspectives recognize that policy problems and their solutions are rhetorically constructed in order to promote particular values positions, just as individuals construct their positions argumentatively in everyday conversation.

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