Context Matters: Recognizing the Effects of Epistemic and Agonistic Contexts in Public Policy Debate
In a representative democracy, public policy formation usually takes place by means of extended debate including stages for research, discovery, altercation, and compromise. The author characterizes contemporary public debate about education and civil justice issues and posits a conceptual model of the effects of participants' goals, public reasons, and normative strategies on the macrostructure of each debate. This model acknowledges the possibility of an agonistic rhetoric as well an epistemic one. Correctly identifying the macrostructure of the debate enables professional writers, critics, and students to engage productively in policy debate.
Issues in Writing