Three Levels of Analysis

        As mentioned in assumption 4 of the section entitled “When should I use the NPF?”, the NPF assumes that policy narratives interact simultaneously at three levels of analysis: the micro level, the meso level, and the macro level. The distinction between the three levels of analysis is best highlighted in Shanahan, Jones, McBeth & Radaelli (2018) when they state:


“At the microlevel the researcher is concerned with the individual and how individuals both inform and are informed by policy narratives.  At the mesolevel, the researcher is focused on the policy narratives that policy actors who compose groups and advocacy coalitions deploy over time within a policy subsystem.  Finally, at the macrolevel the researcher is interested in how policy narratives embedded in cultures and institutions shape public policy” (p. 179).

        These delineations are used to determine the scope of the research and to offer direction related to the units of analysis (Shanahan, et al., 2017).  Units of analysis differ from levels of analysis in that the former “refers to specific observation in the study from which or about which data are gathered” (Shanahan, Jones, & McBeth, 2018, p. 334).


        The interconnectedness of the three levels of analysis stems from earlier work by McBeth and Shanahan (2004) which argues “there is a lack of theory addressing macro-level driving forces in the political system that influence how [policy narratives] develop among policy actors and the public at large” (p. 319-320; Shanahan, et al., 2017, p. 196).  Central to the NPF is specifying how the macrolevel interacts with the mesolevel, and in turn how the mesolevel interacts with the microlevel (Shanahan, et al., 2017).


McBeth, M.K & Shanahan, E.A. (2004). “Public Opinion for Sale: The Role of Policy Marketers in Greater


        Yellowstone Policy Conflict”. Policy Sciences 37 (3), 319-338. Doi: 10.1007/s11077-005-8876-4

Shanahan, E.A., Jones, M.D., & McBeth, M.K. (2018). “How to Conduct a Narrative Policy Framework


        study”. The Social Science Journal, 55, 332-345. Doi: 10.1016/j.soscij.2017.12.002

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