There are key ways for movement groups to use narrative strategies to build stronger coalitions. Many narrative practitioners and funders are using creative means to build narrative infrastructure and power, especially for those whose voices have been traditionally marginalized or “othered.” Yet, we continue to experience fragmentation and toxic othering within many of our movement ecologies where civic space is closing. Here are three areas of narrative practice that support collaboration between groups coming together with the aim of reducing systems of authoritarianism and strengthening democratic values: 1) Legitimacy—how narratives regulate and determine the nature of interactions between people, 2) Power—the dynamics of relations and decision-making in the narrative landscape, 3) Complexity—the capacity of any narrative to evolve and change. The Narrative Engagement Across Difference Project (NEAD) was designed by a consortium of organizers, academics, and philanthropists to take a deep look at narrative practices from a multidisciplinary lens and to reflect on how we can better unlock more effective collective action within diverse, broad-based movements.
Exploring narrative practices for broad-based movements in contexts of democratic decline