Research Handbook on Public Affairs

In this innovative Handbook, prof. Arco Timmermans (Leiden University) brings together a diverse range of experts to scrutinise the current field of public affairs, what can be learned from it and its compatibility with democracy and open society. Through this multidisciplinary focus on knowledge and competencies, the Handbook aims to closely connect the spheres of research and practice within public affairs.

The chapter I wrote is titled “A game of plots: storytelling, narrative competition, and stakeholder characterization in public affairs.”

The nature of stories is found in their ability to move the audience, by raising an almost immediate attention whilst establishing a true connection. In order to achieve this, within the theory of narrative structuralism, the presence of three elements is necessary: a character, a hurdle and a goal. In a public affairs context the power of stories is revealed through narrative competition among stakeholders aiming for affirmative action by policymakers, using the five rhetorical elements of the dramatistic pentad. To determine the impact of a narrative framework on policy outcomes seven factors are suggested: narrative quality, narrative themes, antagonism, majority plot, issue technicality, deadline and narrative scale. In any case, to enter policymakers’ hearts and minds stakeholders should look for a narrative focus which delivers more I, more why and more now. Finally, profit-seeking organisations could reflect on the benefits of characterizing as a morally ambiguous hero when searching for their audiences’ endorsement, appreciation, and respect.


Edward Elgar Publishing


28 Mei 2024