Narratives and their alternatives: Theorizing the social drama of conflict


JAWORSKY Bernadette Nadya

Rok publikování 2022
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Fakulta sociálních studií

Popis A good story is compelling. It has a distinct plot, with a beginning, middle, and end (Aristotle 2006) and characters such as heroes, victims, and villains. Such stories may be widely accepted and considered “true” to those that embrace them. At the same time, the stories that are narrated publicly, especially with regard to political issues, often come into conflict. In this presentation, I employ the tools of cultural sociology to theorize contested narratives. To illustrate the theory, I present the case of competing narratives about Covid-19 and the meanings underlying them. The first tool in my arsenal is the concept of “cultural pragmatics” (Alexander, Giesen and Mast 2006), a way to unpack the elements of cultural performances. Put simply, cultural performance is “the social process by which actors, individually or in concert, display for others the meaning of their social situation” (Alexander 2006, p. 32). The six elements of cultural performance include: (1) systems of collective representations (background symbols and foreground scripts); (2) actors; (3) observers, audience; (4) means of symbolic production; (5) mise-en-scene; and (6) social power. Narratives, my focus in this presentation, fall under “systems of collective representations.” Second, I assert that the alternative narratives presented about Covid-19 represent a cultural performance within the larger (ongoing) “social drama” of Covid-19, in other words, a “performative conspiracy” (Jaworsky 2021). It has played out as a social drama, not necessarily in the classic sense described by Victor Turner (1974), but as the ideal type of performance Isaac Reed (2006) calls “serious social drama.” Finally, theories about “narrative genres” (Frye 1957; Smith 2005) offer a way to depict storylines. Binary oppositions are the “building blocks” of storytelling in the chosen genre (romantic, tragic or apocalyptic), especially in framing “good” or “bad” characters, like heroes and villains. Bringing these cultural sociological concepts together allows for a nuanced understanding of cases in which narratives compete to represent the “true story.” In short, the concept of performative conspiracy helps to elucidate the actual pragmatics of meaning making underlying contested narratives.
Související projekty:

Používáte starou verzi internetového prohlížeče. Doporučujeme aktualizovat Váš prohlížeč na nejnovější verzi.