Narrative Politics: Stories and Collective Action

Hardcover | May 13, 2014

byFrederick W. Mayer

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Narrative Politics explores two puzzles. The first has long preoccupied social scientists: How do individuals come together to act collectively in their common interest? The second is one that has long been ignored by social scientists: Why is it that those who promote collective action sooften turn to stories? Why is it that when activists call for action, candidates solicit votes, organizers seek new members, generals rally their troops, or coaches motivate their players, there is so much story-telling?Frederick W. Mayer argues that answering these questions requires recognizing the power of story to overcome the main obstacles to collective action: to surmount the temptation to free ride, to coordinate group behavior, and to arrive at a common understanding of the collective interest. In thisbook, Mayer shows that humans are, if nothing else, a story-telling, story-consuming animal. We use stories to make sense of our experience and to imbue it with meaning - our self-narratives define our sense of identity and script our actions. Because we are constituted by narrative, we can be movedby the stories told to us by others. That is why leaders who call a community to action seek to frame their invocations in a story in which tragedy and triumph hang in the balance, in which taking part in the collective action becomes a moral imperative rather than a matter of calculatedself-interest.Drawing on insights from neuroscience and behavioral economics, political science and sociology, history and cultural studies, literature and narrative theory, Narrative Politics sheds light on a wide range of political phenomena from social movements to electoral politics to offer lessons for howthe power of story fosters collective action.

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Narrative Politics explores two puzzles. The first has long preoccupied social scientists: How do individuals come together to act collectively in their common interest? The second is one that has long been ignored by social scientists: Why is it that those who promote collective action sooften turn to stories? Why is it that when acti...

Frederick W. Mayer is Professor of Public Policy, Political Science and Environment and Director of the Program on Global Policy and Governance at Duke University. He is the author of Interpreting NAFTA: The Art and Science of Political Analysis.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 13, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199324468

ISBN - 13:9780199324460

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Table of Contents

Preface1. IntroductionPART I: COLLECTIVE ACTION2. The Problems of Collective Action3. Theories of Collective Action and the Opening for NarrativePART II: NARRATIVE, MIND AND MOTIVE4. The Storytelling Animal5. The Call of StoriesPART III: NARRATIVE AND COLLECTIVE ACTION6. Constructing the Collective Good7. Motivating Collective ActionNotesBibliographyIndex