We have a place in a long story: Empowered narratives and the construction of communities: The case of US presidential debates

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Abstract

The article discusses the relevance of narrative theory to the study of politics. It claims that the structure of narratives creates a sense of continuity, which is central to the construction of community. Following this claim, the article demonstrates the potential value of combining the study of political narratives with a study of political actions of empowering those who construct them. It presents a study of the closing statements of US presidential debates as a source of narratives related by politicians, and voting records as an indicator of the power given by the people to those politicians. This study explores the correlation between narrative structure as a textual means of constructing continuity and the power given, by the public, to politicians who produce the narratives. It shows that this correlation tends to be higher in counties located in the eastern US and in counties that tend to be more Republican. This finding, the article suggests, indicates the establishment of different Interpretive Communities in the US.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)119-218
Number of pages100
JournalNarrative Inquiry
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I would like to thank the Leonard Davis Institute at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Fulbright fellowships program for their financial support.

Keywords

  • Interpretive Communities
  • Political discourse
  • Political narratives
  • US presidential debates
  • Voting behavior

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