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The Social Construction of a Crisis: Policy Narratives and Obesity Policy
Risk, Crisis, & Hazards in Public Policy (2013)
  • Mark K McBeth, Idaho State University
  • Randy S Clemons
  • Maria A Husmann, Idaho State University
  • Elizabeth Kusko
  • Alethea Gaarden
Abstract
This research focuses on the topics of crisis construction, obesity policy within the United States, and the importance of policy narratives to both. A policy crisis is ultimately socially constructed by an underlying policy narrative. Using the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), this research asserts that three elements and one political strategy of a policy narrative must be present for the social construction of a chronic crisis leading to policy change. The three elements include attributing the causes of the problem to society, having societal solutions, and allowing policy entrepreneurs seeking a significant change in government’s response to tell their stories as source cues. The political strategy for successful policy change is engaging in problem surfing or attaching the problem of obesity to larger problems. Using the NPF and applying it to the contemporary issue of obesity policy within the United States, we examine the policy narratives embedded in 164 newspaper articles spanning the year 2011. We find that while newspaper articles had more pro-regulatory source cues, overall they attribute obesity to individual causes, suggest individual solutions, and limit the use of problem surfing. We discuss the results both within the context of obesity policymaking and the larger context of the role policy narratives play in the social construction of policy crisis.
Keywords
  • policy narratives,
  • obesity policy.
Publication Date
2013
Citation Information
Mark K McBeth, Randy S Clemons, Maria A Husmann, Elizabeth Kusko, et al.. "The Social Construction of a Crisis: Policy Narratives and Obesity Policy" Risk, Crisis, & Hazards in Public Policy Vol. 4 Iss. 3 (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark_mcbeth/48/