Narrative PowerThe Struggle for Human Value
Narrative Power
The Struggle for Human Value

Narratives are the wealth of nations: they animate life, sustain culture and cultivate humanity. They regulate and empower us, bringing both joy and discontent. And they are always embedded in ubiquitous power: stories shape power, and power shapes story.

In this provocative and original study, Ken Plummer takes us on a journey to explore some of the key dimensions of this narrative power. His main focus is on what he calls ‘narratives of suffering’ and how these change through transformative narrative actions across an array of media forms. The modern world is in crisis, and long-standing narratives are being challenged in five major directions: through deep inequalities, global state complexities, digital risks, the perpetual puzzle of truth and the ever-emerging contingencies of time. Asking how we can build sustainable stories for a better future, the book advocates the cultivation of a narrative hope, a narrative wisdom and a politics of narrative humanity.

<i>Narrative Power</i> suggests novel directions for enquiry, discusses a raft of innovative ideas and concepts, and sets a striking new agenda for research and action.

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  • May 2019 (hb)
    June 2019 (pb)
  • 200 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509517022
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509517039
  • Open eBook $24.95
  • 9781509517060
Table of Contents

Prologue: Going Backstage

Overture: In the Beginning

1 Narratives of Suffering: Six Stories in Search of a Better World

Act I Setting Scenes: Narrative Power as a Way of Seeing

2 Narrative Actions of Power

3 Narrative Power as the Struggle for Human Value

Act 2 Locating Tensions: Narrative Precariousness

4 Narrative Inequalities: Dominance, Resistance and Everyday Power

5 Narrative Digitalism: Transforming Story and Power

6 Narrative Governance: Negotiating World Stories of Power

7 Narrative Contingencies: The Story of Narrative Actions

Act 3 Re-Valuing Futures: Narrative Hope

8 Narrative Wisdoms, Narrative Sustainability: Political Pathways Ahead



About the Author
Ken Plummer is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex
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“Here we are in the hands of a renowned narrative scholar and a most compassionate human being. In writing steeped in urgency, Plummer explores the potential of narrative to support human progress and alleviate suffering, commanding our full attention as he guides us through a world of crisis and possibility.”
Molly Andrews, Co-director, Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London

“Ken Plummer takes readers on a high-altitude ride overlooking stories of power and inequality. The sources cited are impressive in sheer number and diversity of specific topics. Narrative Power is a welcome reminder of what symbolic interactionism can contribute to political understanding. But the political is also personal, and Plummer's own stories of confronting prevalent narratives of sexual identity connect an otherwise macro argument to the biographical level.”
Arthur W. Frank, University of Calgary

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