Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Public Policy and Administration


Gregory Campbell


AbstractScholars approached poverty through welfare reform by focusing on reductions in caseloads, timing out of benefits, and who was and not deserving of a four-year college degree. There is limited research regarding the power of narratives during the policy process and their influences on the language in welfare public laws. This qualitative study addressed the gap in the literature and policy analysis research by comparing and analyzing the welfare narratives and language used by policymakers and political actors from four presidential administrations: Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump, between 1996-2018. This study employed the narrative policy framework (NPF), a theory of the policy process, and feminist critical policy analysis (FCPA), the conceptual framework and gender lens since single welfare mothers are the population most affected by welfare legislation. Official government documents and reliable data were collected from federal and state government websites, women’s advocacy coalitions, and semi-structured interviews with 3 single mothers who attended state institutions of higher education in NC during welfare reform and while receiving welfare benefits. The results found, the narratives used during the policy process had the power to influence the language in welfare legislation and included the social construction of single welfare mothers. Positive social change happens when policy narratives change, institutions of higher education and single welfare mothers advocate for welfare policies including four-year college degrees as work and a policy tool to reduce poverty and create sustainable paths out of poverty. This research has the potential to influence policymakers’ decisions regarding welfare legislation.