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The Narrative Policy Framework

As described by Jones and McBeth, the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) seeks to answer the question “What is the role of policy narratives in the policy process?” through a “quantitative, structuralist, and positivist” lens (2010, p.#). The NPF seeks to describe, explain, and even predict what impact these narratives have on processes and outcomes. It seeks to examine responses to narratives by examining public opinion, group action, and elite behavior at the micro, meso, and macro levels and what that means for the development and implementation of public policy. What causes one narrative to “win” over another? Is there a variable or variables within narratives that can be measured to indicate why a particular policy was implemented or rejected? The NPF seeks to be applicable to most, if not all, areas of public policy, including public health, welfare benefits, the usage of natural resources, and others.

Why should I use the NPF?

       The NPF provides a framework that allows for empirical analysis of the narratives that form around public policies. The NPF shares E.E. Schattschneider’s insight that much of the battle over power and politics is about which issues are constructed so as to be addressed by public action, while other issues are presented so as to be perceived as purely private affairs. This means that policy narratives are an essential component of political activity, and a mechanism for rigor examination of these powerful currents in our politics is an important tool for policy scholars and analysts to design, forge, and hone. Utilization of this framework can yield measurable results through the operationalization of variables within narratives that are in play surrounding public policies. This is in contrast to how many other frameworks view and research narratives through exclusively qualitative, non-positivist, and post-structural lenses (Jones & McBeth, 2010).

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