Thin and thick narrative analysis: On the question of defining and analyzing political narratives

Shaul R. Shenhav*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The article explores how we can define the concept of political narrative and look at the implications in terms of analyzing political discourse. The examination of the various strategies used to define narrative, leads to the suggestion that, at least in the context of political narrative analysis, we need structural definitions that stress the barest minimum for terming a message a narrative. Basing on the proposed strategy to define narrative, the article suggests that narrative analysis should operate on two levels: the "thin" level and the "thick" level. The thin level relates to events and situations described in a discourse and their order of appearance in the text. "Thick level" of analysis, relates to everything included in the "narration" and the relation between the components of the thin narrative. The article examines these two levels of analysis in the context of a short statement by Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, at a photo opportunity in the White House. The analysis demonstrates how to apply a combination of thin and thick analysis to political discourse, and how this dual perspective makes a contribution to the study of spatial construction in narratives.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)75-99
Number of pages25
JournalNarrative Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • Analysis
  • Definitions
  • Discourse
  • Israel
  • Methods
  • Narrative
  • Politics
  • Rhetoric


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