Narratives of drug related harm

Anna Ross, Anne Katrin Schlagg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Social science is concerned with meaning making, and recent developments have seen narrative analysis as an important way of understanding meanings (Fischer, 2003). Narratives are a way to communicate with each other using stories, giving us an understanding of not just individual lives but the cultural narrative or community narrative (Bruner, 1991;; Reissman 1993): “The power of narrative is not so much that it is about life but that it interacts in life.” (Daiute, 2014, 2). It is argued that policy development consists of a series of competing stories/ narratives and ideas (Roe, 1994; Smith, 2012) and these stories become master narratives that are developed to provide surety and coherence in an often complex and unstable policy environment.

When competing narratives/stories do not have a coherent structure to them and are a series of critiques, policy makers will fall on ambiguity and harden the master narrative line, because this provides security and strength to an issue which is complex and full of risk (Roe, 1993; Stone, 2002). It is argued therefore that policy analysts should focus on the structure of the narratives, both master and counter, and explore the similarities and differences in order to craft an alternative story that deals with the uncertainty and risk inherent in all complex policymaking (Roe, 1994, ch.2). Using personal stories to highlight policy narratives (both master and counter) allows the researcher to craft meta narratives that speak to both the policy making community, and the wider stakeholder community. In doing so the counter and meta narratives can attempt to provide the security, coherence and structure needed to create understanding of these complex ‘problems’ and provide viable alternatives by providing insight into the different competing narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrug Science and British Drug Policy
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Analysis of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1979
EditorsIlana Crome, David Nutt, Alex Stevens
PublisherWaterside Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781914603266
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Science
  • Policy
  • Narratives
  • social behavior


Dive into the research topics of 'Narratives of drug related harm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this