Talk of Power, Power of Talk: The 1994 Health Care Reform Debate and Beyond

By Michael W. Shelton | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 7
Textual Features

A final layer must be added to the "text" of the 1994 comprehensive health care reform debate on the floor of the Senate. Just as rhetorical scholars and conversation analysts sometimes focus upon specific elements of a larger text, some focus here needs to be placed upon specific textual features of the discourse that helped to shape the overall debate. Let me make it clear, however, that such specific discursive features represent only one component of the larger text and they do not provide the only means for examination of the Senate floor debate. Indeed, as I examine the discourse of that debate in Part III of this work, the bulk of my focus will be upon the overall rhetorical and argumentative nature of the debate. A focus upon certain specific discursive features does, however, provide a richness of depth and detail that is helpful in illuminating just how talk is power in this dramatic case.

Although it would be possible to examine dozens of specific discursive features relevant to any argumentative activity, this investigation will focus upon five such features: (1) the development of "crisis" discourse, (2) the use of particular categories of evidence, (3) narratives, (4) a set of items that fall under the rubric of what Schuetz ( 1986) labels "language strategies," and (5) "medical metaphors." Selection of these particular features is warranted by both the individual value of each, as I shall explain, and by the scholarly indications that such features play a pivotal role in public policy discourse. Information regarding each of these discursive features and a method of investigation for each is developed in turn. In addition, I also report more formal analysis associated with examinations of those discursive features. The Congressional Record printed more than 450 pages of debate regarding Senator Mitchell's proposal for comprehensive health care reform, the "Health Security Act," in August of 1994. All speeches printed under the heading of the "Health Security Act" were included for analysis in this project. All of the speeches in this floor debate were coded for the five categories of discourse features. Each of these five broad categories of discourse features was divided into component parts for coding. The crisis discourse category included coding for use of the term "crisis" and the context given for construction of


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Talk of Power, Power of Talk: The 1994 Health Care Reform Debate and Beyond


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 179

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?