Comics as Policy Communication

An Exploratory Analysis

by Karen Lee

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In this dissertation, I conducted an exploratory analysis of ways we can improve policy communication using policy comics. I conducted semi-structured interviews with the general public to understand where people get their policy information, how they interact with it, what affects how they interact with it, and what they like and dislike about the communications they see. Using this information, I created 3 pairs of comics and short-form text about policy research. I then conducted a second set of interviews showing people both comic and text formats and asking participants to rate each communication on characteristics and outcomes determined from the first set of interviews. I also asked people about what they liked and disliked about each communication and how the communications compared with each other. I synthesized results from both sets of interviews to create How-To guides for policy research communicators based on what the goals of the communications are; communicators need to be clear what the intended outcome of the communication is since different outcomes may require different and possibly contradictory strategies. I also discuss the potential areas where comics may be appropriate as policy communication.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2022 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Dave Baiocchi (Chair), Gery Ryan, and Alan Lawrence.

Partial funding for this dissertation was provided by the Anne and James Rothenberg Scholarship and the Doris Dong Scholarship.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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