Narrative, Rhetoric and Possible Worlds
‘Time has no being since the future is not yet, the past is no longer, and the present does not remain.’ (Ricoeur 1984: 7)
A rhetorician, I take it, is like one voice in a dialogue. Put several such voices together, with each voicing its own special assertion, let them act upon one another in cooperative competition, and you get a dialectic that, properly developed, can lead to the views transcending the limitations of each.
“Rhetoric-Old and New” (1950)
Connecting Scenarios with Strategy and Action
How to bring about social, organizational, and strategic change?
For several years now, I have been attempting to piece together various strands of knowledge scattered around in boundaries of institutions and academic disciplines. I see a pattern emerging as to how we can attempt to bring about social, cultural, organizational change for strategic management.
More I read and learn, I find astonishing that all we need now is ability to read past knowledge hidden in old books correctly.
Dialectic (Alternatives/Scenarios) + Narratives (Stories) + Rhetoric (Persuasion) = Effective communication and action with scenarios for strategic management.
Source: Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge
Scenarios are stories. In the diverse field of scenario planning, this is perhaps the single point of universal agreement. Yet if scenarios are stories, their literary qualities are often underdeveloped. Scenarios used in business and government frequently do not contain a relatable protagonist, move a plot toward resolution, or compellingly use metaphor, imagery, or other emotionally persuasive techniques of literature. In these cases, narrative is relegated to an adjunct role of summarizing the final results of the workshop. While this neglect of narrative may be reasonable in some contexts, the power of narrative should not be underestimated. Scenario planning methodologies can benefit from using diverse narrative techniques to craft compelling and infectious visions of the future. This article explores the relationship between science fiction and scenarios as story genres and investigates a creative story-telling technique, ‘‘Science Fiction Prototyping’’ (Johnson, 2011). While the method is promising, it is an ultimately problematic means to incorporating narrative into scenario planning.
- Possible Worlds
- Meaning Making
- Rhetoric and Dialectic
- Acts of Meaning
- Actual Minds, Possible Worlds
- World Views
- Socially Extended Mind
- Six Degrees of Separation
- Strategic Management
- Law of Requisite Variety
- Explicit vs Implicit
- Tacit Knowledge
- Contextual Environment
- Operative Environment
- Many Futures
- Possibilities Space
- Normative Futures
- Strategic Change Management
- Social Change
- Organizational Change
- Cultural Change
- Images of the Future
- Jerome Bruner
- Kenneth Burke
- Strategy as Practice
- Narrative Scenarios
- Narratives and Strategy
- Matti Hyvärinen
- Victor Turner
- Inclusion and Exclusion
The narrative turn and Bruner’s contributions.
Source: Jerome Bruner and the challenges of the narrative turn
I take Jerome Bruner’s books, articles, and chapters that relate to narrative as a starting point for my contribution. He published most these texts between 1985 and 1991 (Bruner, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991). Later, at 80 years of age, Bruner published a book on culture, education and narrative (Bruner, 1996), and more recently, a monograph on narratives (Bruner, 2002). The texts he wrote in the second half of the 1980s are at the heart of his contribution to the narrative field. The two later books mentioned are reworked texts on the same subject matter, though with a focus on education and law, on which he also co-authored another important book (Amsterdam & Bruner, 2000).
In the mid-1980s, drawing on the discipline of psychology, Bruner sets criticism of cognitive psychology as a basis for his work, stressing that cognitive psychology had betrayed and narrowed down its initial agenda, to which he himself had so resolutely contributed. Its approach progressively had morphed into a simplistic approach to the processing of information; or, in other words, into a computational model of the mind.
Bruner throws into these foundational texts his theoretical and ideological interests, in a search for connections between psychology on the one hand, and literature, humanities and anthropology on the other. This is an innovative, courageous approach that aimed at shaking the foundations of the psychological study of language, cognition, education, personality, self and identity.
Bruner places himself within the framework of a tradition which he upholds and to which he wants to contribute. A classical precedent among the ancestors of this tradition would be Aristotle’s Poetics, in addition to the much more recent L. S. Vygotsky, A. Schütz, M. Weber, K. Burke and C. Geertz. The interpretive turn, according to Bruner, started in the first quarter of the 20th century, first surfacing in literature, then moving on successively to history, social sciences and epistemology, and eventually reaching the domain of education between the 80s and 90s. Towards the mid-70s meaning became a central element in social sciences. The moment of transition specifically related to the narrative turn (understood as the growing interest in narrative in both research and practice) occurred over the course of the 80s, which, according to Bruner, is when the idea of self as a narrator or a storyteller became more evident. This new momentum was reflected in a short space of time in various influential books from different disciplines: oral history (P. Thompson, F. Ferrarotti), anthropology (C. Geertz), sociology (D. Bertaux, K. Plummer, N. Denzin), philosophy (P. Ricoeur), education (I. Goodson, G. Pineau), and the humanities (D. Polkinghorne). It is interesting to note that all of these books were published within a seven-year period, which shows that the ecology of ideas shapes emerging paradigms based on a set of new, shared assumptions across different fields.
These epistemological transformations form part of a broader intellectual movement – the qualitative approach. This approach has been characterized by its critical stance vis-à-vis positivism, the broader redefinition of the concept of human sciences, a focus on interpretation and on the construction of meaning, as well as the use of qualitative research methods and techniques, such as the open interview, participative observation, action research, and life stories. Constructivism, postmodernism and literary studies on their part have influenced the development of these tendencies, and the said approaches have had a major impact on psychology and education. It is therefore in this grand panorama of epistemological and methodological renovation where we are to place Jerome Bruner, as the innovator of the narrative paradigm that he is (Spector-Mersel, 2010; Domingo, 2005; Shore, 1997).
Bruner has highlighted the importance of meaning as a central process of the individual mind as well as of social interaction. In psychology there can be no avoiding of the problem of meaning, and when it is tackled, the creation of meaning needs to be placed within a community of practice. Culturalism assumes a shared and symbolic mode of preserving, creating and communicating the human world. Meanings have a situated character and this allows their negotiability and communicability. Bruner frequently mentions C. Geertz when specifying his own conception of culture, and emphasizes Geertz’s idea of cultures as texts (Lutkehaus, 2008; Mattingly, Lutkehaus & Throop, 2008). Within this cultural perspective, Bruner’s contribution finds itself placed within the vast domain of cultural psychology, in which he connects with researchers such as as M. Cole, B. Rogoff and J. V. Wertsch.
Characteristics and functions of narratives.
Bruner returns to earlier studies on narrative, he redefines them and brings them into the sphere of social sciences, and into cultural psychology in particular (for a synthesis on narrative and psychology until 1980, see Polkinghorne, 1987, pp. 101-123). In taking on this task, Bruner is conscious of the difficulties and the risks of his intellectual venture. But he also considers his initiative a way to invigorate the intellectual and methodological situation of psychology and other social sciences in the mid-80s. Bruner begins this phase with a text of enormous influence (Bruner, 1985), in which he defends the existence of two basic modes of thinking: paradigmatic or logical-scientific thinking and narrative thinking. The two modes operate with different means, ends and legitimacy criteria. The narrative mode is based on common knowledge and stories; it is interested in the vicissitudes of human actions, it develops practical and situated knowledge; it has a temporal structure and it emphasizes the agentivity of social actors (Bruner, 1985, 1987, 1991).
Bruner has shown great interest in literature and has explored the potential contributions of literature to social sciences. He points out that modern science has become less ontological and more epistemological, adding that literature has developed in the same direction. Literature offers a new and open outlook on the world. This is crucial for education, a field that can be characterized by the development of critical conscience and by the search for alternatives and possibilities. This is why Bruner affirms that democratic classrooms are the ideal place for novelists and poets, while dictatorships control literature and hinder creativity.
By concentrating on narrative, Bruner maintains and deepens his interest in language. This does not solely entail language development in babies and children but also the acquisition and evolution of narrative competence, a subject linked to the understanding of the minds of others. It also refers to philosophical and sociocultural dimensions of human language. Language is not neutral and this has profound implications when it is used in scientific, educational, social and political contexts. The visibility that Bruner has given to language and cognition is also important to note. He highlights the significance of speech and orality – which taken in their everyday contexts can be described as processes of expression, negotiation and exchange – out of which the theories emerge that guide people in their everyday lives to understand themselves as well as to understand others and to interact with them. This is related to studies on folk psychology, which are based on the contents and processes of knowledge of ordinary people. Here we find also, as part of a broader movement, the so-called linguistic turn. Contrary to Saussure’s conception of language as an abstract, balanced system, the new tendencies take an interactive and dialogical perspective, and underline the functions of speech in real, natural, everyday communicative contexts. In this field we can also not forget the influence of Bakhtin and his circle.
In addition, narratives are characterized by their complexity. Stories are about problems, dilemmas, contradictions and imbalances. They connect the past, the present and the future, and they link past experiences with what may be yet to come. Bruner calls this process of imagining and creating alternatives subjunctivization. For this reason he insists on the importance of the possible worlds, even in sectors such as law, in which the possibility of contemplating or foreseeing alternatives seemingly does not exist (Bruner, 2002). This capacity of narratives for imagining and constructing other worlds, and for trying to make them a reality, is an essential feature of the human capacity to transform our own selves as well as our social contexts. Narrative reality has a high level of complexity, which manifests itself through its specific characteristics: temporality, generic particularity, interpretability, implied canonicity, negotiability, ambiguous reference and historical extension (Bruner, 1996, 133-147).
Bruner has emphasized and criticized our ignorance of the subject of narrative. The knowledge of the ways in which we interpret, construct and use stories has been nonexistent or marginal in the education system as well as in other areas. Bruner also criticizes the lack of interest in narrative and the emphasis on logical-scientific knowledge modes (we know more about the right-angled triangle than about Aristotle’s Poetics). In an attempt to change the situation, Bruner has invested much effort into introducing narrative to research, teaching, law and social debates. Teaching the art of narrative and storytelling represents a necessity but, at the same time, a challenge given the difficulty of the task.
Books by Jerome Bruner
- A Study of Thinking. 1956.
- Bruner, Jerome S. (1960). The Process of Education. ISBN 978-0-674-71001-6.
- Studies in Cognitive Growth. 1966.
- Bruner, Jerome Seymour; Bruner, University Professor Jerome (1966). Toward a Theory of Instruction. ISBN 978-0-674-89701-4.
- Processes of Cognitive Growth: Infancy. 1968.
- Beyond the Information Given: Studies in the Psychology of Knowing. W. W. Norton & Company. 1973. ISBN 978-0-393-09363-6.
- Bruner, Jerome Seymour (1979). On Knowing: Essays for the Left Hand. ISBN 978-0-674-63525-8.
- Child’s Talk: Learning to Use Language. 1983.
- In Search of Mind: Essays in Autobiography. 1983.
- Bruner, Jerome S. (1985). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. ISBN 978-0-674-00366-8.
- Lurii͡a, Aleksandr Romanovich; Bruner, Jerome S. (1987). “Foreword”. The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory. ISBN 978-0-674-57622-3.
- Bruner, Jerome S. (1990). Acts of Meaning. ISBN 978-0-674-00361-3.
- Bruner, Jerome Seymour (1996). The Culture of Education. ISBN 978-0-674-17953-0.
- Amsterdam, Anthony G.; Bruner, Jerome S. (2000). Minding the Law. ISBN 978-0-674-00816-8.
- Bruner, Jerome Seymour (2003). Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life. ISBN 978-0-674-01099-4.
Narratives in Organizational Studies
Source: A Review of Narrative Methodology
Case studies of narrative in organisational studies demonstrate how narrative can be used to effect cultural change, transfer complex tacit knowledge through implicit communication, construct identity, aid education, contribute to sense making, act as a source of understanding, and study decision making.
This review of storytelling positions narrative research largely within the postmodernist paradigm. Postmodernism came into use during the late 20 century, and questions the modernist philosophical assumptions of rationality and universal truth, and the application of scientific empirical methods to problem solving. Instead, postmodernism emphasises that knowledge is value-laden, and reality is based on multiple perspectives, with truth grounded in everyday life involving social interactions amongst individuals. Context plays a crucial role in the social construction of reality and knowledge. Its criticism of the modernist or positivist (empirical, rational) paradigm is based on the concept of social representation. Postmodernism is said to account for this limitation in modernism by acknowledging that stories told through language as the medium are constitutive of reality. Postmodernism emphasises the social nature of knowledge creation.
There is some indication that the narrative approach is gradually gaining recognition in various disciplines including those outside the social sciences. The approach is said to enable capture of social representation processes such as feelings, images, and time. It offers the potential to address ambiguity, complexity, and dynamism of individual, group, and organisational phenomena.
Rhetoric in Organizational and Social Sciences
Affective Rhetoric: Unity and Division
Source: Affective Rhetoric in China’s Internet Culture
According to Burke, rhetoric is “the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols” (Rhetoric 43). Rhetoric induces cooperation through symbols to effect an identification between a speaker and an audience and among members of organizations and social groups. It therefore also, and necessarily, both unifies individuals and groups and divides them from one another. It is thus a “simultaneous identification-with and division-from” (46). As recent scholarship has demonstrated, however, Burke’s view of language encompasses both its symbolic and affective dimensions (Hawhee 83-86). In Permanence and Change, Burke observes the “remarkable affective responsiveness” required “to be terrified at a gun the first time in one’s life a gun is pointed at one, and without ever having been shot” (149). This affective responsiveness is not solely a bodily reaction but is a consequence of “our interpretations of the signs, [which,] be they true or false, can instigate the most intense affections” (149). Debra Hawhee explains this affective responsiveness as “a serialized process of meaning making whereby affect enters at every step, forming and reforming what is called rational” (84). In Language as Symbolic Action, Burke insists that computers are incapable of this kind of affective responsiveness. Computers, he explains, “not being biological organisms, . . . lack the capacity for pleasure or pain (to say nothing of such subtler affective states as malice, envy, amusement, condescension, friendliness, sentimentality, embarrassment, etc.)” (23). Contemporary theories of affect show, however, how computers can facilitate and enable the serialized process of meaning making that Hawhee attributes to Burke.
Persuasion in the Rhetorical Tradition
List of selected studies
Source: Strategy as Practice and the Narrative Turn
- Introduction to Narrative For Futures Studies
- Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge
- Strategy as Practice and the Narrative Turn
My Related Posts
Key Sources of Research:
A Tripartite Self-Construction Model of Identity
In TELLING STORIES: Language, Narrative, and Social Life
Deborah Schiffrin, Anna De Fina, and Anastasia Nylund, Editors
The Narrative Construction of Reality
Critical Inquiry 18 (Autumn 1991)
NARRATIVES OF AGING
New York University
Jerome Bruner and the challenges of the narrative turn
Then and now
José González Monteagudo University of Seville, Spain
(Narrative Inquiry, Clark University/USA, 21, 2, 295-302, ISSN: 1368-6740).
Life as Narrative
Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method
Margaret S. Barrett and Sandra L. Stauffer
In Narrative Inquiry in Music Education : Troubling Certainty
Jerome Bruner. A psychologist beyond any border
Piero Paolicchi firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction to Narrative For Futures Studies
University of Helsinki Finland
Journal of Futures Studies, March 2014, 18(3): 5-26
Reaching for Meaning : Human Agency and the Narrative Imagination
Theory Psychology 2009 19: 213
Complexity Thinking, Complex Practice: The case for a narrative approach to Organizational Complexity
Mary J Hatch
Conversation at the Border Between Organizational Culture Theory
and Institutional Theory
Mary Jo Hatch and Tammar Zilber
Journal of Management Inquiry
Cultural Paradigms in Management Sciences
Management and Business Administration.Central Europe
USING STORIES IN ORGANIZATIONAL RESEARCH
School of Management Imperial College
Cassell, Catherine and Gillian Symon (eds.), An essential guide to qualitative research methods in organizations, Sage Publications, London
Making Sense of Stories: A Rhetorical Approach to Narrative Analysis
Martha S. Feldman
University of California at Irvine
Kaj Sko ̈ldberg
Ruth Nicole Brown Debra Horner University of Michigan
The Sociology of Storytelling
Francesca Polletta, Pang Ching Bobby Chen,
Beth Gharrity Gardner, and Alice Motes
Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697; email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2011. 37:109–30
This article’s doi: 10.1146/annurev-soc-081309-150106
Strategy as Practice and the Narrative Turn
Organization Studies 32(9) 1171–1196 /2011
What Is Complexity Science? A Possible Answer from Narrative Research
John T. Luhman & David M. Boje
EMERGENCE, 3(1), 158–68
Phenomenology of embodied implicit and narrative knowing
Wendelin Ku ̈pers
Wendelin Ku ̈pers is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Open University Hagen, Hagen, Germany.
JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT j VOL. 9 NO. 6 2005, pp. 114-133
RETELLING STORIES IN ORGANIZATIONS: UNDERSTANDING THE FUNCTIONS OF NARRATIVE REPETITION
STEPHANIE L. DAILEY
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin and University of Nordland
Academy of Management Review 2014, Vol. 39, No. 1, 22–43. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amr.2011.0329
Narrative Temporality: Implications for Organizational Research
Ann L. Cunliffe, John T. Luhman and David M. Boje
25(2): 261–286 ISSN 0170–8406 /2004
Time and Narrative Volume 1
Translated by Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer
The Handbook of Narrative Analysis, First Edition.
Edited by Anna De Fina and Alexandra Georgakopoulou.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
NARRATIVES AND PROCESSUALITY
University of Oulu email@example.com
Aalto University School of Business EMLYON Business School Lancaster University firstname.lastname@example.org
A Review of Narrative Methodology
Narrative and Rhetorical Approaches to Problems of Education.
Jerome Bruner and Kenneth Burke Revisited
Kris Rutten • Ronald Soetaert
Published online: 24 August 2012
Stud Philos Educ (2013) 32:327–343 DOI 10.1007/s11217-012-9324-5
Applying Burke’s Dramatic Pentad to scenarios☆
Allan W Shearer
Department of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Available online 21 May 2004.
Creating narrative scenarios: Science fiction prototyping at Emerge
Futures 70 (2015) 48–55
A Gramma of Motives: The Drama of Plato’s Tripartite Psychology
John J. Jasso
Philosophy & Rhetoric Vol. 53, No. 2 (2020), pp. 157-180 (24 pages)
Published By: Penn State University Press
Kenneth Burke on Dialectical-Rhetorical Transcendence
James P. Zappen
Philosophy & Rhetoric
Vol. 42, No. 3 (2009), pp. 279-301 (23 pages)
Published By: Penn State University Press
Affective Rhetoric in China’s Internet Culture
10th Triennial Kenneth Burke Society Conference Conflicts & Communities: Burke Studies in a World Divided East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, June 8-11, 2017
James P. Zappen
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Persuasion in the Rhetorical Tradition
J. Michael Hogan
Kenneth Burke’s New Deal
Dries Vrijders Ghent University
‘Dramatistic to the Core’: Allen Tate and A Grammar of Motives
M. Elizabeth Weiser Ohio State University
The Space Between, Volume V:1 2009 ISSN 1551-9309
Rhetoric of Motives
Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.
Jahn, Manfred. 2005.
English Department, University of Cologne.
‘Roleplaying to Improve Resilience’.
Shearer, A. W.
Architecture_MPS 18, 1 (2021): 6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.amps.2020v18i1.006.
Does the intuitive logics method – and its recent enhancements – produce “effective” scenarios?
George Wright a,⁎, Ron Bradfield b, George Cairns
Technological Forecasting & Social Change (2012)
The Handbook of Narrative Analysis
Anna De Fina and Alexandra Georgakopoulou
From Ritual to Theater
the Human Seriousness of Play
Victor Turner’s Postmodern Theory of Social Drama:
Implications for Organization Studies
David M. Boje, Ph.D., New Mexico State University
August 1, 2003
A Narrative to Approach to Strategy as Practice: strategy making from texts and narratives.
Valérie-Inès de la Ville, Eléonore Mounoud.
Damon Golsorkhi; Linda Rouleau; David Seidl; Eero Vaara.
Cambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice, Cambridge University Press, pp.249-264, 2015, 978- 1107421493. halshs-01390100
Rhetoric, Discourse and Argument in Organizational Sense Making: A Reflexive Tale
First Published September 1, 1995
A narrative approach to strategy-as-practice.
Brown, A.D. & Thompson, E.R. 2013.
Business History 55, 7: 1143-1167
Kenneth Burke’s Dramatistic Pragmatism:
A Missing Link between Classical Greek Scholarship and the Interactionist Study of Human Knowing and Acting1
University of Waterloo, Canada
2017 QSR Volume XIII Issue 2
History of Classical Rhetoric – An overview of its early development (1)
BY BRIAN LEGGETT
Posted on October 16, 2012