Lecture 3: Narrating the Nation: Mythology & Strategy (Dittmer, 2010…
Lecture 3: Narrating the Nation: Mythology & Strategy
Patterson and Monroe, 1998
“Narratives – the stories people tell – provide a rich source of information about how people make sense of their lives, about how they construct disparate facts and weave them together cognitively to make sense of reality”
“Insofar as narratives affect our perceptions of political reality, which in turn affect our actions in response to or in anticipation of political events, narrative plays a critical role in the construction of political behaviour”
“We do this as individuals and we do it as collective units, as nations or groups”
“Narrative generally requires agency…when narrative emphasises human action that is directed towards goals, it provides insight on how different people organise, process, and interpret information and how they move forward achieving their goals”
“Post-structuralism largely rejects any attempt to seek out universal structures of human nature, culture, history or language” - :318
– Derrida (1981)
states such discourse as neither fixed or stable, but always shifting.
“All narratives are essentially normative…by suggesting both what is a norm and what is a departure from the norm, all narrative suggests an interpretation of what the state of the world ought to be”
“all narrative moralises judgement”
“Narratives are important in providing both individuals and collectives with a sense of purpose and place. The shared stories of a culture provides grounds for common understandings and interpretation”
:321 – Links to
Anderson’s Imagined Community (1983)
Billig’s Banal Nationalism (1995)
Regarding national identity –
“Stories about the origin and development of a nation provide a shared sense of who we are, where we come from, and how we fit together. These narratives permeate culture and are essential to any kind of collective functioning”
- :322 –
Gives examples of this being passed through education curriculum e.g. readings of
“The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”
or viewings of
“How the West Was Won”
– “Constitutes a significant part of our socialisation”
Narratives are about a sequence of events arranged around a problem and designed to restore equilibrium.
“In particular, one is reminded of White’s (1981) observations about the normative or moralizing aspects of narrative. The concepts we use to build theory are themselves narratives, or the symptoms of narratives. Development, industrialisation, the Cold War, and class conflict are all built on stories about how the world has grown and changed, and they are infused with strong normative implications”
Somers and Gibson, 1994
“Ontological Narratives” – although narratives are a social product, they are also our own particular stories. Through personal experiences of place etc. that determines agency and behaviour.
“Public Narratives” – Narratives of institutions e.g. governments or corporations that creating communal understandings of ourselves or others. Often ontological narratives build on from this.
“Metanarratives” – Dominant overarching narratives that instruct us in relation to the way that history has unfolded and will continue to. Often includes dualities such as individuals vs society / order vs chaos. So ingrained in society, they are often difficult to recognise or be aware of.
"Strategic Narratives" -
“Representations of a sequence of events and identities, a communicative tool through which political actors – usually elites – attempt to give determined meaning to past, present and future in order to achieve political objectives. Critically, strategic narrative integrate interests and goals – they articulate end – states and suggest how to get there”
(Miskimmon et al. 2011)
They are often future orientated, identity and boundary related and made to unify a domestic audience and be projected to a globalised public sphere - E.g. Global Britain
Gast (1872) – “American Progress”
– female, white, east to west, carrying telephone cables, modernity, the future, manifest destiny, exceptionalism, equality – notice it ignores the colonial connotations etc. glorified portrayal, problematic. Etc.
1989 – Ten Thousand Miles from tip to tip
A new post 9-11 narrative:
Made by AdCouncil - Formerly known as The War Advertising Council
Previous campaigns include positives of capitalism during Cold War era. Could this diversity propaganda a use of soft power to create a narrative to build banal nationalism that justifies the US going into war?
Logos - Logic and Reasoning
Narrative rationality - Confirmation of a narrative's validity by comparison with personal experiences.