Facts matter. The scientific process can be described as the quest to establish facts and uncover the how and why of reality, independent of the beliefs and values of human beings. The simple truth is that facts do not speak for themselves.
There is too much information in the world to process all at once. Humans have always used symbols, metaphors, and stories to help communicate ideas and navigate reality, focusing on details that we think are relevant to us.
Shared symbols and stories foster shared identity and guide shared action. Similar stories can be woven together to form a broad narrative that usually represents an ongoing process.
Narratives are convenient as they render a complex issue more accessible. They do this by combining certain facts in a process known as ‘framing’, using structures familiar to us like purpose and intent. What’s more, they contain implicit arguments that appeal to important human values as a motivation for action (or inaction) on a given issue.
Understanding narratives is thus the key to both understanding ourselves and others and building shared solutions to our problems.
Re-Imagine Europa’s narrative approach to problems generally involves
- mapping the various ways in which contentious issues are framed
- identifying the common features (structures, symbols, iconography, community) used to build broader narratives
- deconstructing narratives along the axes of identity and structural frame to determine the values to which they appeal
- determining underlying concerns shared across narratives
- reformulating issues along more inclusive and evidence-informed lines