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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  • June 2019
  • 200 pages
  • 158 x 232 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509517022
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509517039
  • Open eBook $19.99
  • 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 a Struggle for Human Value
  • ACT 2 Locating Tensions: The Fragility of Narrative
  • 4 Narrative Inequalities
  • 5 Narrative Digitalism
  • 6 Narrative States
  • 7 Narrative Wisdom
  • 8 Narrative Contingencies
  • ACT 3 Moving On: Acts of Narrative Hope
  • 9 Caring for Narrative Futures: Towards a Politics of Narrative Humanity
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
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

". . . the book presents a good resource for scholars who seek an overview of the various dimensions of power related to narrative research and storytelling. For practitioners and students of social work, the book may be entry point into the world of narrative research, particularly as we consider the ways narratives are used to disrupt, challenge, or maintain the societal status quo."
Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work

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