The value of words: Narrative as evidence in policy making

Dmitry Epstein, Cynthia Farina, Josiah Heidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Policy makers today rely primarily on technical data as their basis for decision making. Yet, there is a potentially underestimated value in substantive reflections of the members of the public who will be affected by a particular regulation. Viewing professional policy makers and professional commenters as a community of practice, we describe their limited shared repertoire with the lay members of the public as a significant barrier to participation. Based on our work with Regulation Room, we offer an initial typology of narratives- complexity, contributory context, unintended consequences, and reframing-as a first step towards overcoming conceptual barriers to effective civic engagement in policy making.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalEvidence and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Civic engagement
  • Evidence-based policy making
  • Narrative
  • Rulemaking


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