Narrative analysis


Use for

Reorientation, identifying perverse links.


This method is based on the premise that social problems, such as sustainability problems, are social constructions. Consequently, it is possible to form an impression of problems and perverse links from the narratives of stakeholders. You can then also develop ideas for creating new links, in other words new solutions in the form of system innovations.

What do you do?

You make a reconstruction of problems and solutions as seen by stakeholders using:

  • narratives: about how the desired effect can be achieved
  • counter-narratives: about how the undesired effect was caused
  • non-narratives: criticism of narratives and counter-narratives

From these narratives, counter-narratives and non-narratives you then produce a meta-narrative that clearly transcends them and suggests more fundamental solutions, which are then submitted to the participants.


Narrative analysis is a good method to use for issues of sustainability that have both a scientific and a social dimension and for problems that take the shape of a dilemma (solving one problem will exacerbate another).

More information

Roe, E. (1994). Narrative Policy Analysis. Theory and Practice Duke University Press: Durham & London.

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