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A network approach to policy framing: a case study of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan

journal contribution
posted on 2017-01-01, 00:00 authored by Jennifer BrowneJennifer Browne, E de Leeuw, D Gleeson, K Adams, P Atkinson, R Hayes
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd Aboriginal health policy in Australia represents a unique policy subsystem comprising a diverse network of Aboriginal-specific and “mainstream” organisations, often with competing interests. This paper describes the network structure of organisations attempting to influence national Aboriginal health policy and examines how the different subgroups within the network approached the policy discourse. Public submissions made as part of a policy development process for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan were analysed using a novel combination of network analysis and qualitative framing analysis. Other organisational actors in the network in each submission were identified, and relationships between them determined; these were used to generate a network map depicting the ties between actors. A qualitative framing analysis was undertaken, using inductive coding of the policy discourses in the submissions. The frames were overlaid with the network map to identify the relationship between the structure of the network and the way in which organisations framed Aboriginal health problems. Aboriginal organisations were central to the network and strongly connected with each other. The network consisted of several densely connected subgroups, whose central nodes were closely connected to one another. Each subgroup deployed a particular policy frame, with a frame of “system dysfunction” also adopted by all but one subgroup. Analysis of submissions revealed that many of the stakeholders in Aboriginal health policy actors are connected to one another. These connections help to drive the policy discourse. The combination of network and framing analysis illuminates competing interests within a network, and can assist advocacy organisations to identify which network members are most influential.



Social science and medicine




10 - 18




Amsterdam, The Netherlands







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, Elsevier