The discursive turn in policy analysis and the validation of policy stories

Lindsay Prior, D. Hughes, S. Peckham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is concerned with the language of policy documents in the field of health care, and how ‘readings’ of such documents might be validated in the context of a narrative analysis. The substantive focus is on a comparative study of UK health policy documents (N=20) as produced by the various assemblies, governments and executives of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during the period 2000-2009. Following an identification of some key characteristics of narrative structure the authors indicate how text-mining strategies allied with features of semantic and network analysis can be used to unravel the basic elements of policy stories and to facilitate the presentation of data in such a way that readers can verify the strengths (and weaknesses) of any given analysis – with regard to claims concerning, say, the presence, absence, or relative importance of key ideas and concepts. Readers can also ‘see’ how the different components of any one story might fit together, and to get a sense of what has been excluded from the narrative as well as what has been included, and thereby assess the reliability and validity of interpretations that have been placed upon the data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-289
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Issue number2
Early online date06 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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