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© 2007 Palgrave Macmillan Ltd All rights reserved. Health research involves more than the simple generation and use of knowledge and should be considered as a political exercise laden with power relations and strategies for gain. Health research and related policy are pushed and pulled in different directions according to the priorities identified by particular institutions and individuals. I explore the means by which one such area - primary care research - is governed and regulated, by whom, for what potential gain, and to what ends. I employ discourse analysis as a means of appreciating the social and historical contingency of research and the power relations inherent within it and import the theoretical concept of 'governmentality' to situate analysis within the context of neo-liberal politics (a distinct government rationality associated with free-market ideology allowing political objectives to be achieved through 'action at a distance'). Findings show how the relationship between science and government has promoted managerial approaches to the organization and conduct of primary care research manifest in a number of policy mechanisms. These aid standardization of activities and encourage researchers and the organizations in which they are based to take on particular types of research production and practices to the exclusion of others.

Original publication




Journal article


Social Theory and Health

Publication Date





316 - 337