The state of narrative change research methodology

We are excited to share recent findings of investigation into narrative research by partners at Spitfire Strategies. We sought to explore traditional and emergent research methods used to determine openings and trends in narrative change. Our goal was to develop an accessible and useful resource for the field.

We will share key findings and broaden the conversation at a webinar on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. Please join us and confirm your seat now by clicking here.

As narrative change remains in a “storming phase,” practitioners have a number of research methods they  deploy to track narrative trends. With many actors representing a range of disciplines within strategic communications, political power-building, and culture change, those interviewed made calls for more unified and rigorous standards as well as shared ethical practices.

Yet, what are those research methods, and what do they tell us about potential openings and shifts in narratives to foster more fair and inclusive societies? What more or different is needed?

To better understand how research data informs decisions in narrative change efforts, our partners at Spitfire interviewed 18 key informants across four groups.

  • Group 1: In-house researchers at nonprofit organizations.
  • Group 2: Staff at nonprofit organizations outsourcing narrative change research.
  • Group 3: Staff at academic and research organizations studying narrative work.
  • Group 4: Narrative research practitioners with a broad field perspective.

The findings largely fell into two thematic areas, building field capacity and organizational capacity to meaningfully deploy research focused on narrative change to build justice and equity. For the purpose of this project, we defined narrative change as the outcome of efforts intended to shift power and dominant narratives on an ambitious, broad scale.

Join us on October 9, 2019, for a webinar in which we’ll dig into the findings of this small survey of narrative change actors using research to inform their respective practices of building power, amplifying justice and equity. We will explore the themes and limitations of this survey as well as opportunities for further collaboration and increased field capacity for narrative change research. Additional work in this vein, conducted collectively with additional partners in the field, will enrich our landscape assessment and index making it more representative of the range of research methods and actors engaged.

We want to thank each contributor for their generosity of time and keen insights. These interviews served as a beacon guiding us to greater clarity about the state of narrative research as well as the general state of the narrative change field. With Spitfire’s thoughtful stewardship, enthusiastic attention to delivering excellence, and useful recommendations based on what they heard from the interviewees, we have a good deal to share back with those interested and those already activated in narrative change. Despite the small sample size, each contributor has given us a solid starting point upon which we all can build with you.

In the end, we all want to know what’s working in our narrative change efforts, what is not, and why. Research is one of those ways to see small trends before the larger ones emerge. Invite your network to the webinar as we deepen this analysis in dialogue, building and diversifying the voices and perspectives. Join us as we build on and go beyond these findings looking towards our shared future as a community of practice. Register here.

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