In this research, I employed content analysis using the constant comparative method to examine and comment on the rhetoric of public policy and its audiences of specialists and generalists in the context of participative government. I examined the specific case of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR) by comparing technical report texts from 2004 and 2010 to reveal and contrast their specialist and generalist features. Unique attributes of the rhetoric of public policy are discussed, particularly authorship and recursion. I organized the research findings into physical features, affective features, and cognitive features according to Carliner's framework of information design (2000). According to my findings, the CNR report from 2010 has significantly more generalist-friendly features. Generalist-friendly features at the physical level are as follows: the location of very technical information in appendices, an extensive resources section, and the heavy use of colored charts and figures. Generalist-friendly features at the affective level are: the use of emotional language in definition/naming and the use of metaphor. Generalist-friendly features at the cognitive level are: the use of metaphor and limited use of jargon. Ideology and cultural artifacts in the documents are discussed, but were determined to more likely reflect audience values and/or the political environment from which public policy rhetoric arose than specialist or generalist attributes.


Gretchen A. Perbix

Committee Member

Nancy MacKenzie

Committee Member

Judith Luebke

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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