Political Narratives

"Tangled up in Stories": Workshop for Authors on “Political Narratives”

23th November 2012

In political science too, storytelling might be the next big thing. Yet up until today it remains uncertain, how the analysis of narratives can have its share in the study of the political. Trying to answer this question, the authors’ workshop “Political Narrative” took place on November 23, 2012 in Duisburg, Germany.

Round about 30 Scientists followed the call by editors Frank Gadinger (Centre for Global Cooperation Research), Taylan Yildiz and Sebastian Jarzebski (NRW School of Governance) and found their way to Duisburg.  The workshop in Duisburg was set up in order to work on theoretical and methodological questions concerning an upcoming publication on political narratives. The editors work together in an associational research project that studies the roles and functions of narratives. The workshop was supported by the main research area “Transformation of Contemporary Societies” (Wandel von Gegenwartsgesellschaften) of the University Duisburg-Essen. The participating scientists, as well as members of the local Institute of Political Science (Universität Duisburg-Essen) and fellows from the Centre for Global Cooperation, were discussing about both, about the possibilities and difficulties of a narrative analysis in political science.

The workshop started with a keynote speech by Dr. Willy Viehöver (University of Augsburg), one of the pioneers of narration analysis in social sciences. Viehöver stated that the “political is always tangled up in with stories” and that there would be a need to find a research approach, which considers this thesis. This approach could show promise to the analysis of political controversy. The consecutive panels presented different perspectives on the connection between narration and the political and how this connection could reasonably be studied. Papers dealing with cities problematic-narratives, iconographic studies about Kazakhstan and the grand narrative of Somali piracy as well as the obscure narratives about the financial crises were read and discussed by Willy Viehöver, Anna Geis, Wilhelm Hofmann and Christoph Bieber. In his final lecture Prof. Frank Nullmeier (University of Bremen) discussed the options of “Narrations about Narrations”. Nullmeier revisited the initial problem: how could a methodology of a narrative analysis be implemented in political science?

At the end of the day a variety of questions was brought up and discussed intensively.  The workshop and the multi-faceted discussion clearly illustrates that this interdisciplinary project needs further research. The critical discussions and inspiring lectures showed that a narratological perspective on political problems is not an easy – yet – it is a promising way, with an enormous analytical potential. The upcoming Publication is expected for Summer 2013 at Springer-VS and will have to be to assessed upon the fulfillment of its analytical promise

Venue: NRW School of Governance, University of Duisburg-Essen

Workshop Programme (German)