Research event

Moralization in policy narratives: Insights from climate policy

A presentation by Jale Tosun (Professor of Political Science, University of Heidelberg). This event is part of the Sustainability Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Sustainability.

The use of moral values has been neglected in literature on the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) so far. Although the NPF conceptualizes the ‘moral of the story’ as one of the key elements of policy narratives, this concept relates to the policy solution promoted by the policy narrative and not to moral values. Surprisingly, literature on the NPF has not yet conceptualized to what extent moral values are built into policy narratives to mobilize for (or against) policy measures and whether moralization is used as a narrative strategy. Moralization means creating a direct link between a policy solution and a moral value. Consequently, the moral value justifies the policy solution. No further justification is necessary, as not supporting the policy solution would be immoral. Thus, there is an incentive that moralization is used in policy narratives to mobilize for or against certain policy solutions. In this contribution, we conceptualize the role of moral values and moralization in the NPF by building on linguistic studies, and apply our conceptual approach to the recent policy discourse on climate change in Germany.

Following the presentation, attendees will have the chance to discuss and ask questions. This session will be moderated by Christian Flachsland


  • Jale Tosun is a professor of Political Science at the Institute of Political Science of the University of Heidelberg. After studying political and administrative science in Konstanz and Pavia, she completed her PhD at the University of Konstanz on the topic of transformative change of environmental policy in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Jale Tosun was a Research Fellow at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research before coming to Heidelberg in October 2013 as an assistant professor of International and Comparative Political Economy. She has been a professor of Political Science since March 2015. Her teaching and research focuses mainly on the comparative study of regulation in areas of environment, energy, and climate change, as well as on distributive conflicts within the European Union and the influence of the EU on regulatory measures in third-party states. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Jale Tosun leads the project Change through Crisis? Solidarity and Disunity in Germany and Europe (Solikris). As part of the research network of the support program on water research, she also manages the project Effect-Net: A multi-scale effect network for hazard identification and risk evaluation of high consumption chemicals in aquatic ecosystems - drugs, pharmaceuticals and food additives - from receptors to biodiversity.