Organizing 101, part 4: Dominant Narrative vs. Transformational Narrative

A public narrative is a story that, when told in many different ways, can shift public consciousness and change what is possible.  At any given time there are multiple narratives in the public arena, but the dominant public narrative is a narrative that trumps all other narratives and has the most power to shape what is possible.  For example, the current dominant narrative includes elements like the following:  government is bad; individuals are responsible for their own destinies and must “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps;” corporations are the job creators; and we live in a post-racial society.  For those of us who seek to build the beloved community, those dominant narrative elements are limiting, oppressive, and false.

A transformational narrative makes it possible for people to imagine new possibilities.  A transformational narrative dares to ask “what if?”. What if you are just as powerful as those at the top of the social and political ladder? What if you claim that power alongside others in your community? What if the unjust systems that operate in our society were changed?

A transformational narrative calls upon individuals to change the world as it is into the world as it should be.  We build power when we shift the current dominant narrative to a narrative of transformation.

From Mary Lim-Lampe, Executive Director of Genesis

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