The world is in dire need of ‘new stories’ and more constructive narratives, according to sociology experts.
“People need to have stories… better stories than the ones that are currently offered,” Nathan Schneider (pictured above), assistant professor, media studies, University of Colorado Boulder said at a panel talk at the Open 2018 event in London.
The panel discussed global challenges such as rampant inequality, accelerating species extinctions and global warming. The experts agreed that a new collaborative narrative is needed to enact change for a ‘better, more sustainable society’.
“We need more people sharing their rage about global issues. We need more confidence to put things out there and sometimes simplify them so that they catch on fire and spread,” said Francesca Pick, co founder of Greaterthan.
We need more people sharing their rage about global issues. We need more confidence to put things out there and sometimes simplify them so that they catch on fire and spread
Schneider agreed: “People need to stand up for an alternative narrative.. so often the people that have created the faulty systems that we have today are those who have infinite confidence in their own egos.”
Dr Cristina Flesher Fominaya, a reader in politics and international studies at Loughborough University, said today’s dominant cultural narratives are ‘remarkably fact free’.
“It’s not about having strong rational ideas that we agree on.. if people think that having a really good argument can move people, that’s not enough. The US President lies constantly, for example, but still gets coverage,” she said.
Fominaya suggested that ‘powerful storytelling’ is the key to moving people to action.
“If you think about the recent liberalisation of abortion rights in Ireland, what swayed them was great story telling, not the logical data. The story’s narrative wasn’t about abortion per se it was about giving people a choice,” she said.
If you think about the recent liberalisation of abortion rights in Ireland, what swayed them [the government] was great story telling, not the logical data
Fominaya added: “Designing the perfect world solution is great but it probably won’t do much for society if it doesn’t catch on… there is a way we have to recognise and disseminate the power of rage.”
The doctor said that the global narrative of ‘what we think is the essence of human nature’ will have the biggest influence on how we transform society to be more collaborative and compassionate.
Fominaya said: “We need a paradigm shift. Let’s reframe the concept of ‘politics’ to be about caring for life, whether that’s caring for people or nurturing the environment and animals.”
The Open event is the first of its kind in London and is billed as a conference ‘about the ownership revolution and forging a path to a collaborative, sustainable economy’.
The event’s organiser Oliver Sylvester-Bradley said: “We can sit around asking “why aren’t things getting better?” and protesting against the status quo but, ultimately, mitigating the outcomes and effects of a system which works in a certain way is like sticking plasters on a severed limb. It will never help. It might make the patient, and the helper, feel good in the short term but it will never address the underlying issues.”
Sylvester-Bradley added: “It’s about creating new organisations which are member owned and democratically governed so that we, the people, have control over the institutions we rely on. Our vision is of a world in which people and planet come before profit. It’s a vision of a generative economy supporting a world of abundance in which common resources are ethically and equitably stewarded for the benefit of all.”