Evaluating policy as argument: the public debate over the first UK Austerity Budget

Fairclough, Isabela orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6718-2636 (2017) Evaluating policy as argument: the public debate over the first UK Austerity Budget. In: The Discourse of Financial Crisis and Austerity: Critical Analyses of Business and Economics Across Disciplines. Routledge, London. ISBN 9781138280977

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This article aims to make a methodological contribution to the ‘argumentative turn’ in policy analysis and to the understanding of the public debate on the UK government’s austerity policies. It suggests that policy arguments are practical arguments from circumstances, goals and means-goal relations to practical conclusions (proposals) that can ground decision and action. Practical proposals are evaluated in light of their potential consequences. The article proposes a deliberation scheme and a set of critical questions for the evaluation of deliberation and decision-making in conditions of incomplete knowledge (uncertainty and risk). It illustrates these questions by analyzing a corpus of articles from five newspapers over the two months following the adoption of the first austerity Budget in June 2010. It also suggests how ‘framing’ functions in deliberation and decision-making, and how analysis of ‘framing’ can be integrated with the analysis and evaluation of argumentation.

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