‘Drowning the deadweight in the rhetoric of economism: what free swimming tells us about public services’

O'Brien, David. 2012. ‘Drowning the deadweight in the rhetoric of economism: what free swimming tells us about public services’. Public Administration, 91(1), pp. 69-82. ISSN 0033-3298 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

In light of the Coalition government's plans to ‘consider new and radical approaches to public service provision’, this paper discusses the decision making process within central government and argues central government's response to the crisis reflects ongoing trends in Whitehall. The paper explores these trends using sport policy, Free Swimming and the Educational Maintenance Allowance. These funding decisions show the continued power of the Treasury within Whitehall and the extension of the Green Book's economism, along with a specific rhetorical use of economic evidence to present controversial decisions as technical exercises. The Coalition's claims of an overhaul of public service provision reflect the furtherance of longstanding developments in Whitehall's method of policy analysis, displaying remarkable similarity to New Labour's approach to decision making. For those scholars aiming to offer forms of critique to Coalition policy, the paper opens a significant site, and language, for resistance.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Aug 2015 09:49

Last Modified:

29 Jul 2016 10:43

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



Edit Record Edit Record (login required)