Policy Narrative Strategies

        Narrative strategies are used to influence the policy process. Though we are likely to see additional narrative strategies operationalized in future NPF studies, current NPF research has focused on the following three strategies:

I.         Scope of the conflict: Influenced by E.E Schattchneider (1961), NPF scholars have studied how the construction of policy narratives have strategically attempted to expand or contain policy issues. When characters perceive themselves as losing an issue, “they engage in narrative strategies that aim to expand the scope of the conflict" (Shanahan, et al., 2017, p. 177). When characters perceive themselves as winning an issue, “they engage in narrative strategies that contain an issue to the status quo" (Shanahan, et al., 2017, p. 177).

II.         Causal Mechanisms: Causal mechanisms are used to assign responsibility and blame in regards to a policy problem. “These responsibility and blame ascriptions can be thought of as explanations of why and how one or more particular factors (e.g., income disparities and lack of education) lead to another (e.g., public unrest) in public policy (Shanahan, et al., 2017, p. 178). The causal mechanisms are based off Deborah Stones’ Policy Paradox; The art of Political Decision Making (2012), who defines the four causal theories as intentional, inadvertent, accidental, and mechanical.

III.         Devil-angel Shift: According to Weible, Sabatier and McQueen (2009), “the devil shift predicts that actors will exaggerate the malicious motives, behaviors, and influence of opponents” (p. 132-133). The angel shift “occurs when groups or policy actors emphasize their ability to solve a problem and de-emphasize villains” (Shanahan, et al., 2017, p. 178). The devil-angel shift is measured as the degree to which the narrator classifies other actors as the villains compared to the degree to which they classify themselves as the hero.


Shanahan, E.A., Jones, M.D., McBeth, M.K., & Radaelli, C.M. (2017). The Narrative Policy


        Framework. In Weible & Sabatier (Eds.), Theories of the policy process (4th ed., p. 173-213).


        New York, NY; Routledge. Doi: 10.4324/9780429494284-6

Stone, D. (2012). “Policy Paradox; The art of Political Decision Making”. New York: W.W. Norton.

Weible, C. M., Sabatier, P. A., & Mcqueen, K. (2009). “Themes and Variations: Taking Stock of the


        Advocacy Coalition Framework”. Policy Studies Journal, 37(1), 121-140.