"Our Idea was to Apply this Framework to the Russian Context"
An interview with prof. Caroline Schlaufer on the "Policy narratives in Moscow" RGS's results of the first year and role of the students in this project.
Artem Uldanov and Caroline Schlaufer have discussed several questions related to the work of the RGS and also the results of the first year
Hi Artem! Sure and thanks, that is a reason to congratulate all of the group members
Caroline Schlaufer: Research has shown that people use stories to understand the world around them. Therefore, stories – or narratives – also play an important part in the way people think and decide about public policy. A framework was developed to study the role of narratives in policy processes, it is called the Narratives Policy Framework (NPF). This framework has mostly been applied to the USA and countries in Western Europe. Our idea was to apply this framework to the Russian context. For our analysis, we selected public debates around three policy issues in Moscow. More precisely, we examined the debates around transport policy, the housing renovation program, and waste management policies. We selected texts from websites of actors who promote governmental policy and of those who oppose and criticize these policies. We then analyzed what narratives were used by these actors in these debates.
CS: The students are doing an excellent job! It was their task to collect all texts and code them. This is very time-intensive work. Everybody finished their tasks on time and worked well in the team. The pandemic started when we had to start coding. Instead of face-to-face seminars I prepared a few videos to explain everything. Then we met online once a week to exchange on our coding. Looking back, I am surprised how well everything worked. Everybody joined our online discussion and besides some instable internet connection, there were no problems. The online regime had also advantages: for example, all students could participate at an international online conference.
It was not difficult to create the team, many students were interested to be part of the RSG.
CS: On the one hand, we are finalizing our scientific articles that we prepared last year. I am very proud that we succeeding in writing four articles for international scientific journals. One of them was already accepted for publication, for the other ones, we still need to prepare revisions and re-submit them. On the other hand, we are planning on adding a qualitative study to our quantitative analyses of the first year. In this second year, we want to critically interrogate what is lost when narratives are examined quantitatively, and what could we gain by using qualitative methods.
CS: We were a really big team, consisting of 12 students. Of course, it has not always been easy to manage such a big team. To make this easier, we split up into smaller groups, and each of them had their tasks to fulfill. This worked very well. In my view, the biggest challenge – well, besides the pandemic – is the limited time. We wanted to present finalized articles by the end of the year. To achieve that, we had to start collecting data very early. I think we rushed too fast into the data collection. In a next research project, I would spend a bit more time in the beginning to clarify hypotheses, case selection, and the data collection approach.