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Narrative and Collective Action: The Power of Public Stories
Unformatted Document Text:  Narrative and Collective Action: The Power of Public Stories Frederick W. Mayer ## email not listed ## Abstract This paper develops a narrative theory of collective action, arguing that shared narratives, public stories, are the fundamental human device for enabling communities to act collectively. Stories have great power in the mind, both cognitive and affective. It is through autobiographical narrative that we establish our identity and make meaningful our experience. As creatures constituted by narrative, we can be moved by stories: persuaded, provoked, and enlisted in causes. And because stories can be shared, can be held at once in mind and society, they can serve to construct common interests in collective goods, align individual identities with collective pursuits, and script collective acts of meaning. Paper prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association annual meeting Philadelphia September 1, 2006 1

Authors: Mayer, Frederick.
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Narrative and Collective Action:
The Power of Public Stories
Frederick W. Mayer
Abstract
This paper develops a narrative theory of collective action, arguing that shared narratives,
public stories, are the fundamental human device for enabling communities to act
collectively. Stories have great power in the mind, both cognitive and affective. It is
through autobiographical narrative that we establish our identity and make meaningful
our experience. As creatures constituted by narrative, we can be moved by stories:
persuaded, provoked, and enlisted in causes. And because stories can be shared, can be
held at once in mind and society, they can serve to construct common interests in
collective goods, align individual identities with collective pursuits, and script collective
acts of meaning.
Paper prepared for presentation at the
American Political Science Association annual meeting
Philadelphia
September 1, 2006
1


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