Compelling stories are essential to policies, and as policies face challenges the stories change. This chapter discusses three distinct but intertwined themes: (i) policy as meta-narrative, (ii) policy as narration, and (iii) policy as narrative-networks. First, policymakers (and other actors) construct general stories that serve to capture and convey a policy initiative in a coherent, repeatable plot. But much of policy also emerges from the interpretive actions of street-level and other actors who actively narrate a policy into existence (possibly changing the script in the process). And, lastly, policy also takes the form of active communities, which we refer to as narrative-networks, which coalesce around a policy initiative and further its realization. These communities can challenge dominant policy narratives. We illustrate these ideas with the example of drug enforcement in the U.S., using contrasting narratives from the Reagan and Obama eras to dramatize the importance of narratives in the policy process.
Raul Lejano, Mrill Ingram and Helen Ingram
Helen Ingram and Raul Lejano
Charles W. Howe and Helen Ingram
Helen Ingram and Anne L. Schneider
Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram
Social constructions of the target populations of public policy heavily influence the process by which policies are created. In the case of policy formulation in particular, framing the target population has a profound impact on the selection of policy tools. The chapter argues that these social constructions impacting policy formulation become deeply embedded into policy-making orientations, explaining how some groups are more advantaged than others and how policy design can reinforce or change these biases.