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Title: Tales of power : public and policy narratives on the climate and energy crisis
Author: Roberts, Thomas Campbell
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2010
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With the dual challenge of peak oil and climate change, there is a crucial need to gain public support for different energy options. This thesis explores the role that critical narrative rationality can play in attending to this pressing public policy issue. It argues that ,human communication and rationality is inextricably bound up with narrative forms of discourse, and that the recognition of this narrative dimension of rationality can serve important critical functions. The thesis develops a theoretical approach to narrative that can contribute to the post-positivist analysis of policy processes. Through an engagement with Mary Douglas's cultural theory, this argument is developed further in relation to the divergent 'mythologies' associated with energy and climate issues. The indispensability of narrative reasoning in structuring future uncertainties and shaping policy scenarios is also revealed. Narrative is also addressed as an innovative public engagement methodology for publics to contribute to imagining futures, and a novel Deliberative Storytelling Workshop with an orientation toward lay forms of narrative discourse is described. During the workshop, professional storytelling, visualisation exercises and policy scenarios were all used to elicit and stimulate public imaginations and future stories regarding the human and cultural aspects of life in 2050. The thesis demonstrates how this process provided a rich set of public understandings of the future and concerns over energy and climate change, and helped to reveal participants' situated, relational and storied forms of knowledge. The thesis concludes by arguing that such an approach, with its emphasis on narrative rationality, could provide opportunities for a public sociology that gives a greater democratic voice to lay publics in upstream futures work, and offers potentially fruitful synergies that bridge the division between expert and lay knowledges and understandings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available