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Evidence, policy and practiceCritical perspectives in health and social care$
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Jon Glasby

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847423191

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847423191.001.0001

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Policy making through a rhetorical lens

Policy making through a rhetorical lens

‘It’s all just rhetoric’

(p.48) (p.49) four Policy making through a rhetorical lens
Evidence, policy and practice

Jill Russell

Trisha Greenhalgh

Policy Press

Rhetoric, the craft of persuasion, has received a poor press in modern times. Both in everyday language and in much academic debate rhetoric is seen as something dishonest and undesirable, as manipulation or propaganda, and as such, a disruptive force and a threat to democratic deliberation. However, there is an alternative, affirmative conceptualization of rhetoric, which has its roots in classical scholarship, and is the focus of this chapter. The chapter identifies three fundamental features of rhetoric, and suggests ways in which a rhetorical perspective can enrich the analysis of policy making. Arguments are illustrated with examples from a study of priority setting in primary care, including extracts of talk from the deliberations of a National Health Service Priorities Forum charged with prioritising healthcare resources at a local level, comprising specialists in public health, commissioning and finance managers of the primary care organisation, local general practitioners, and patient representatives.

Keywords:   rhetoric, rhetorical perspective, policy making, priority setting, primary care

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