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The performance of political narratives: how Australia and Britain's 'fat bombs' fizzled out

The performance of political narratives: how Australia and Britain's 'fat bombs' fizzled out
The performance of political narratives: how Australia and Britain's 'fat bombs' fizzled out
Though narrative has become an important concept in political analysis, the empirical focus has largely been limited to narrative as text. This paper puts equal emphasis on narration as act. Drawing on tools and techniques associated with dramaturgy, I analyse how actors perform a critical counter-narrative on obesity as a policy issue across democratic settings in Australia and the UK. I show that this political narrative is watered down, muted, and confused the closer it gets to formal governing institutions; this avowedly ‘cohesive narrative’ becomes fuzzy, inconsistent and overlapping, such that the ticking ‘fat bomb’ described in open public debate fizzles out before it even approaches these institutions. In concluding, I argue that these findings add considerable nuance to our understanding of how and to what effect narrative manifests in political affairs.
narrative, dramaturgy, health policy, obesity
724-739
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c

Boswell, John (2016) The performance of political narratives: how Australia and Britain's 'fat bombs' fizzled out. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 18 (3), 724-739. (doi:10.1177/1369148116630232).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Though narrative has become an important concept in political analysis, the empirical focus has largely been limited to narrative as text. This paper puts equal emphasis on narration as act. Drawing on tools and techniques associated with dramaturgy, I analyse how actors perform a critical counter-narrative on obesity as a policy issue across democratic settings in Australia and the UK. I show that this political narrative is watered down, muted, and confused the closer it gets to formal governing institutions; this avowedly ‘cohesive narrative’ becomes fuzzy, inconsistent and overlapping, such that the ticking ‘fat bomb’ described in open public debate fizzles out before it even approaches these institutions. In concluding, I argue that these findings add considerable nuance to our understanding of how and to what effect narrative manifests in political affairs.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 16 July 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: 29 April 2016
Published date: August 2016
Keywords: narrative, dramaturgy, health policy, obesity
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

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Local EPrints ID: 379320
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/379320
PURE UUID: c28a8a1f-80c7-4252-aa18-2754e3cc2604

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Date deposited: 27 Jul 2015 10:36
Last modified: 10 Jan 2018 05:30

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