Introducing the Narrative Policy Framework

  • Michael D. Jones
  • Mark K. McBeth
  • Elizabeth A. Shanahan


You will stir up little controversy by asserting that human beings are storytelling animals. We all have at least a rough accounting of what a story is. Stories progress from beginnings, through middles, and have endings. They are composed of characters. There is a plot situating the story and characters in time and space, where events interact with the actions of the characters and the world around them to make the story worthy of telling in the first place. We have all told stories. We have all listened to stories. Indeed, even our thoughts and emotions seem bound by the structure of story. It is not surprising then that whole academic disciplines have been devoted to the study of story and that whole careers have been largely dedicated to a single story or a single storyteller such as William Shakespeare or Mark Twain. We are thus, in a sense, homo narrans, and there is something about story—or narrative—that feels uniquely human. Consider this: pause for a moment and try to imagine communication without story….


Climate Change Policy Meso Level Advocacy Coalition Policy Reality Narrative Element 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barker, David C., and James D. Tinnick III. 2006. “Competing Vision of Parental Roles and Ideological Constraint.” American Political Science Review 100(2):249–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berinksy, Adam J. and Donald R. Kinder. 2006. “Making Sense of Issues through Media Frames: Understanding the Kosovo Crisis.” The Journal of Politics 68(3):640–656.Google Scholar
  3. Clemons, Randy S., Mark K. McBeth, and Elizabeth Kusko. 2012. “Understanding the Role of Policy Narratives and the Public Policy Arena: Obesity as a Lesson in Public Policy Development.” World Medical and Health Policy 4(2):1–26.Google Scholar
  4. Derrida, Jacques. 1981. “The Law of Genre.” In On Narrative, W.J.T. Mitchell (ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 51–77.Google Scholar
  5. Dodge, Jennifer, Sonia M. Ospina, and Erica Gabrielle Foldy. 2005. “Integrating Rigor and Relevance in Public Administration Scholarship: The Contribution of Narrative Inquiry.” Public Administration Review 65(3):286–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Druckman, James N., and Arthur Lupia. 2000. “Preference Formation.” Annual Review of Political Science 3:1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fischer, Frank, and John Forrester. 1993. The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Genette, Gerard. 1983. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Green, Melanie C., and Timothy C. Brock. 2005. “Persuasiveness of Narratives,” In Timothy C. Brock and Melanie C. Green (eds.), Persuasion: Psychological Insights and Perspectives, Second Edition. London, Sage Publications, 117–142.Google Scholar
  10. Haidt, Jonathan. 2007. “The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology.” Science, 316:998–1002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hajer, Maarten A. 1993. “Discourse Coalitions and the Institutionalization of Practice: The Case of Acid Rain in Britain.” In Frank Fischer, and John Forester (eds.), Durham The Argumentative Turn, NC: Duke University Press, 43–76.Google Scholar
  12. Herman, David. 2009. Basic Elements of Narrative. Walden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Herman, David (ed.). 2003. Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Hovland, Carl I., Arthur A. Lumsdaine, and Fred D. Sheffield. 1949. Experiments on Mass Communication. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Husmann, Maria A. 2013. Obesity: The Elephant in the Room or Why Words and Stories Matter. Master’s thesis. Department of Political Science, Idaho State University.Google Scholar
  16. Jensen, Laura. 2003. Patriots, Settlers, and the Origins of American Social Policy. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jones, Bryan D. 2001. Politics and the Architecture of Choice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Jones, Michael D. 2010. Heroes and Villains: Cultural Narratives, Mass opinion, and climate change. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Scholar
  19. Jones, Michael D. 2013. “Cultural Characters and Climate Change: How Heroes Shape our Perception of Climate Scien.” Social Science Quarterly 95(1):1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jones, Michael D. (forthcoming, 2014). “Communicating Climate Change: Are Stories Better than ‘Just the Facts?’ ” Policy Studies Journal.Google Scholar
  21. Jones, Michael D. and Mark K. McBeth. 2010. “A Narrative Policy Framework: Clear Enough to Be Wrong?.” Policy Studies Journal 38(2):329–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones, Michael D. and Geoboo Song. 2014. “Making Sense of Climate Change: How Story Frames Shape Cognition.” Political Psychology 35(4):447–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jones, Bryan D. 2001. Politics and the Architecture of Choice: Bounded Rationality and Governance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kahan, Dan M., and Donald Braman. 2006. “Cultural Cognition and Public Policy.” Yale Law and Policy Review 24:147–170.Google Scholar
  25. Kahan, Dan M., Donald Braman, John Gastil, Paul Slovic, and C.K. Mertz. 2007. “Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White-Male Effect in Risk Perception.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 4(3):465–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kahneman, Daniel. 2011. Thinking Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux;Google Scholar
  27. Kunda, Ziva. 1990. “The Case for Motivated Reasoning.” Psychological Bulletin 108(3):480–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kurzban, Robert. 2010. Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kusko, Elizabeth. 2013. Policy Narratives, Religious Politics, and the Salvadoran Civil War: The Implications of Narrative Framing on U.S. Foreign Policy in Central America. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Political Science, Idaho State University.Google Scholar
  30. Lakatos, Imre. 1974. “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.” In Criticism and the Growthof Knowledge, eds. Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave. London: Cambridge University Press, 91–196.Google Scholar
  31. Lakoff, George. 2002. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lejano, Raul, Mrill Ingram, and Helen Ingram. 2013. The Power of Narrative in Environmental Networks. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lodge, Milton, and Charles S. Taber. 2005. “The Automaticity of Affect for Political Leaders, Groups, and Issues: An Experimental Test of the Hot Cognition HypothesisPolitical Psychology 26(3):455–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lodge, Milton and Charles S. Taber. 2013. The Rationalizing Voter. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lybecker, Donna L., Mark K. McBeth, and Elizabeth Kusko. 2013. “Trash or Treasure: Recycling Narratives and Reducing Political Polarization.” Environmental Politics 22(2):312–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mattila, Anna S. 2000. “The Role of Narratives in the Advertising of Experiential Services.” Journal of Service Research 3(1):35–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. May, Peter J., and Ashley E. Jochim. 2013. “Policy Regime Perspectives: Policies, Politics, and Governing.” Policy Studies Journal 41(3):426–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McBeth, Mark K., and Elizabeth A. Shanahan. 2004. “Public Opinion for Sale: The Role of Policy Marketers in Greater Yellowstone Policy Conflict.” Policy Sciences 37(3):319–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McBeth, Mark K., Elizabeth A. Shanahan, and Michael D. Jones. 2005. “The Science of Storytelling: Measuring Policy Beliefs in Greater Yellowstone.” Society and Natural Resources. 18 (May/June):413–4429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McBeth, Mark K., Elizabeth A. Shanahan, Ruth J. Arnell, and Paul L. Hathaway. 2007. “The Intersection of Narrative Policy Analysis and Policy Change Theory.” Policy Studies Journal 35(1):87–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McBeth, Mark K., Donna L. Lybecker, and Kacee A. Garner. 2010a. “The Story of Good Citizenship: Framing Public Policy in the Context of Duty-Based Versus Engaged Citizenship.” Politics & Policy 38(1):1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McBeth, Mark K., Elizabeth A. Shanahan, Linda E. Tigert, Paul L. Hathaway, and Lynette J. Sampson. 2010b. “Buffalo Tales: Interest Group Policy Stories in Greater Yellowstone.” Policy Sciences 43(4):391–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McBeth, Mark K., Elizabeth A. Shanahan, Molly Anderson, and Barbara Rose. 2012. “Policy Story or Gory Story?: Narrative Policy Framework, YouTube, and Indirect Lobbying in Greater Yellowstone.” Policy & Internet 4(3–4):159–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McBeth, Mark K., Michael D. Jones, and Elizabeth A. Shanahan. 2014. “The Narrative Policy Framework” Chapter In Paul A. Sabatier and Christopher Weible (eds.), Theories of the Policy Process (3rd edition), Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  45. Miller, Hugh T. 2012. Governing Narratives: Symbolic Politics and Policy Change. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.Google Scholar
  46. Morgan, Susan E., Lauren Movius, and Michael J. Cody. 2009. “The Power of Narratives: The Effect of Entertainment Television Organ Donation Storylines on Attitudes, Knowledge, and Behaviors of Donors and Nondonors.” Journal of Communication 59:135–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Morris, James P., Nancy K. Squires, Charles S. Taber, and Milton Lodge. 2003. “Activation of Political Attitudes: A Psychophysiological Examination of the Hot Cognition Hypothesis.” Political Psychology 24(4):727–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ney, Steven. 2006. Messy Issues, Policy Conflict and the Differentiated Polity: Analysing Contemporary Policy Responses to Complex, Uncertain and Transversal Policy Problems. Vienna, LOS Center for Bergen: Doctoral Dissertation.Google Scholar
  49. Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press.Google Scholar
  50. Polkinghorne, Donald. 1988. Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  51. Propp, Vladimir. 1968. Morphology of the Folktale. 2nd ed. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  52. Radaelli, Claudio M. 2000. “Public Policy Comes of Age: New Theories and Policy Process Symposium: Theories of the Policy Process.” Journal of European Public Policy 7:30–35.Google Scholar
  53. Radaelli, Claudio M., Claire A. Dunlop, and Oliver Fritsch. 2012. “Narrating Impact in the European Union.” Paper presented at the Political Studies Annual Conference, Belfast. Retrieved from Scholar
  54. Redlawsk, David P. 2002. “Hot Cognition or Cool Consideration? Testing the Effects of Motivated Reasoning on Political Decision Making.” The Journal of Politics 64(4):1021–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ripberger, Joseph, Geoboo Song, Matthew C. Nowlin, Michael D. Jones, and Hank C. Jenkins-Smith. 2012. “Reconsidering the Relationship Between Cultural Theory, Political Ideology, and Political Knowledge.” Social Science Quarterly 93(3):713–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Riker, William H. 1986. The Art of Political Manipulation. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Roe, Emery. 1994. Narrative Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sabatier, Paul A. 2007. Theories of the Policy Process. Second Edition. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  59. Sabatier, Paul A., Susan Hunter, and Susan McLaughlin. 1987. “The Devil Shift: Perceptions and Misperceptions of Opponents.” Western Political Quarterly 41: 449–476.Google Scholar
  60. Sabatier, Paul A. and Hank C. Jenkins-Smith (eds). 1993. Policy Change and Learning: An Advocacy Coalition Approach. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  61. Sabatier, Paul A., and Christopher M. Weible. 2007. “The Advocacy Coalition Framework: Innovations and Clarifications.” In Paul A. Sabatier (ed.), Theories of the Policy Process, 2nd ed., Paul A.Sabatier (ed.). Westview Press:, 189–220.Google Scholar
  62. Saussure, Ferdinand De. 1965. Course in General Linguistics. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  63. Schattschneider, E. E. 1960. The Semi-Sovereign People. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.Google Scholar
  64. Shanahan, Elizabeth A., Mark K. McBeth, Ruth J. Arnell, and Paul L. Hathaway. 2008. “Conduit or Contributor? The Role of Media in Policy Change Theory.” Policy Sciences 41(2):115–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Shanahan, Elizabeth A., Michael D. Jones, and Mark K. McBeth. 2011a. “Policy Narratives and Policy Processes.” Policy Studies Journal 39(3):535–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Shanahan, Elizabeth A., Mark K. McBeth, and Paul L. Hathaway. 2011b. “Narrative Policy Framework: The Power of Policy Narratives in Influencing Public Opinion.” Politics & Policy 39(3):373–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shanahan, Elizabeth A., Michael D. Jones, Mark K. McBeth, and Ross R. Lane. 2013. “An Angel on the Wind: How Heroic Policy Narratives Shape Policy Realities.” Policy Studies Journal 41(3):453–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Simon, Herbert A. 1947. Administrative Behavior: A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organization (1st ed.). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  69. Smith, Kevin B., and Christopher W. Larimer. 2013. The Public Policy Theory Primer, Second Edition. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  70. Stone, Deborah. 1989. “Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas.” Political Science Quarterly 104(2):281–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stone, Deborah. 2002. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. New York: WW. Norton.Google Scholar
  72. Stroud, Natalie Jomini. 2008. “Media Use and Political Predispositions: Revisiting the Concept of Selective Exposure.” Political Behavior, 30:341–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Szymanski, Anne-Marie E. 2003. Pathways to Prohibition: Radicals, Moderates, and Social Movement Outcomes. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Taber, Charles S., and Martin Lodge. 2006. “Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs.” American Journal of Political Science 50(3):755–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Thompson, Michael, Richard Ellis, and Aaron Wildavsky. 1990. Cultural Theory. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  76. Walker, Mary Jean. 2012. “Neuroscience, Self-Understanding, and Narrative Truth.” AJOB Neuroscience 3(4):63–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Weible, Christopher M. 2005. “Beliefs and Policy Influence: An Advocacy Coalition Approach to Policy Networks.” Political Research Quarterly 58(3):461–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Weible, Christopher, M., Paul A. Sabatier and Kelly McQueen. 2009. “Themes and Variations: Taking Stock of the Advocacy Coalition Framework.” Policy Studies Journal 37(1):121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael D. Jones, Elizabeth A. Shanahan, and Mark K. McBeth 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Jones
  • Mark K. McBeth
  • Elizabeth A. Shanahan

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations