Mechanism and the Novel: Science in the Narrative Process

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Secondly, these concepts, particularly the concept of causal mechanisms, allow futures researchers to be more specific about the causal claims that are made concerning links between events. The third key benefit is that the understanding of scenarios as narratives of reactive sequences highlights the importance of the timing and order of events. In a reactive sequence, each event is a reaction to a previous one and a cause of the next one.

Therefore the order of events is important, as the impacts of earlier events cascade throughout the subsequent sequence.

Science of Storytelling

It is not only important to consider what is done action and by whom actor , but also when this action is taken. No doubt executives or politicians who make decisions on timing of investments or policies already know this. In addition, if two or more processes cross each other in a conjuncture, when this happens crucially influences the outcome Mahoney, On the other hand, the approach of scenarios as narratives of reactive sequences has some shortcomings and unexplored areas.

First the shortcomings. The time horizon cannot be very long, as the number of events would multiply uncontrollably and arguing for a limited number of scenarios would become impossible. Secondly, this approach is not suitable for all topics. The approach of narrative explanation is intended to explain intentional human action in complex social systems.

For modelling environmental systems and other natural phenomena, other approaches are more appropriate because nature follows laws and mechanisms that are different from the mechanisms of human action. Finally, there is the assumption that causal mechanisms which occurred in history provide insight into what is possible in the future.

Limiting what is possible based on historical knowledge is always dangerous because it may limit creativity and truly innovative solutions. However, solid knowledge of history is arguably needed as a basis even for novel solutions. As for the unexplored areas, this approach is at an early stage of formulation and it has not shown its practical feasibility.

Scenario building is also practical activity, and often it is equally important that approaches are feasible in practice than formally appropriate. Secondly, the connections to formal methods such as probability trees, agent-based modelling and Markov chains have not been explored. In addition, I have not considered actors' subjective understandings of time and of social processes. In order to fully understand historical sequences and potential future sequences, subjective temporal orientations would also need to be taken into account Aminzade, Finally, I have not devoted much attention to the question of the right level of analysis.

Abell acknowledges that narrative explanation is time-consuming and expensive, and often explanation based on statistical regularities is more appropriate. However, we should at least acknowledge that we should strive to open black boxes of narrative explanations within scenarios, if possible.

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These shortcomings only mean that this scenario approach has its own scope and niche, and it does not fit all research projects. Thus we return to the point already made earlier in this paper: there is room for different kinds of scenario approaches. The current state of scenario development: an overview of techniques. Foresight 9 , 5—25 Emerald, Re-examining and renewing theoretical underpinnings of the Futures field: A pressing and long-term challenge.

Futures 41 , 67—70 Elsevier BV, Wendell Bell. Transaction Publishers, The origins and evolution of scenario techniques in long range business planning. Futures 37 , — Elsevier BV, Scenario types and techniques: Towards a users guide. Futures 38 , — Elsevier BV, Philip W. An updated scenario typology. Futures 35 , — Elsevier BV, Peter Schwartz. Currency Doubleday, The sixth sense: Accelerating organizational learning with scenarios.

Chapter 5 – Rhetorical Modes – Let's Get Writing!

David J. History and future: using historical thinking to imagine the future. Lexington Books, Herman Kahn, Anthony J. The year a framework for speculation on the next thirty-three years. Macmillan New York, Jari Y. Kaivo-oja, Tapio S. Katko, Osmo T. Seeking convergence between history and futures research. Futures 36 , — Elsevier BV, James Mahoney. Path dependence in historical sociology. Theory and Society 29 , — Mika Mannermaa. In search of an evolutionary paradigm for futures research. Futures 23 , — Elsevier BV, Andrew Abbott. Realist ontology for futures studies.

Journal of Critical Realism 5 , 1—31 Roberto Poli. Steps toward an explicit ontology of the future. Journal of Futures Studies 16 , 67—78 Colin J. Bennett, Charles D. MIT Press, Publications Office. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Scenarios and counterfactuals as modal narratives. Futures 41 , 87—95 Elsevier BV, Sirkka Heinonen, Juho Ruotsalainen.

Futures Cliniquemethod for promoting futures learning and provoking radical futures. Sohail Inayatullah. Causal layered analysis: poststructuralism as method. Futures 30 , — Neil MacDonald. Futures and culture. Futures 44 , — Elsevier BV, Michael Burnam-Fink. Futures Elsevier BV, Larry J. Peter Abell. Annual Review of Sociology 30 , — Annual Reviews, Ronald Aminzade.

Historical Sociology and Time. Daniel Little. Understanding Society: A causal narrative?. Giovanni Capoccia, R. Daniel Kelemen. Kalle A. Piirainen, Rafael A. Theory of and within foresight — What does a theory of foresight even mean?. Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences. Annual Review of Sociology 36 , 49—67 Annual Reviews, Chicago University Thesis: U. Iowa University Thesis: U. Michigan University Thesis: U. Victoria Canada University Thesis: U. Please wait…. Document failed to export.

Download your document. View compilation logs. Please contact help authorea. Index Introduction Scenario approaches scenarios are one Snapshots Three concepts Reactive-sequences Reactive-sequences-copy1 Reactive-futures Privacy-sequence In this sequence we see Privacy-sequence-external In this figure we see Reactive-sequences-future In the figure scenario 1 Narrative explanation drawing a sequence Causal mechanisms what differentiates analytic Discussion the aim of this.

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A copy merely points to the original, but a picture has an entirely different task. Via a picture the original comes to life, comes to be more like "itself". Without the picture, the original would not be same as it is with the presence of the picture. It is in this way that the truth happens in and through the picture.

Something new emerges in the world, and something is uncovered as a result of the picture. Autobiographical narrative and identity share this same hermeneutic logic with the picture and the original. Autobiography is not just a copy, it has another task, the task of the picture. According to Bruner, there is no "life itself" without interpretation:. There is no such thing psychologically as "life itself".

At very least, it is a selective achievement of memory recall; beyond that, recounting one's life is an interpretive feat. Philosophically speaking, it is hard to imagine being a naive realist about "life itself". Bruner , Interpretation is the process of recognising something as something. In autobiography, we recognise ourselves as ourselves. In this process we both create and change ourselves. Telling or writing an autobiography brings about a hermeneutic experience in which I see myself in an entirely different light.

This could in turn alter my action and force me to retell or rewrite my autobiography. In order to more profoundly illustrate the significance of the telling and re-telling of an autobiography, we must apply Paul Ricoeur's concept of mimesis. Ricoeur borrows his concept of mimesis imitation from Aristotle. For Aristotle, poetics is essentially imitation mimesis , but not in the meaning of plain copy, which is the Platonic use of the concept.

According to Ricouer's interpretation, mimesis refers to creative imitation by the means of the plot of lived temporal experience Ricoeur , For Ricouer, mimesis is not just the production of a narrative text. Mimesis refers to the threefold process of which the narrative is merely one element. These three phases are pre-understanding, plotting and application. Ricouer names these phases mimesis1, mimesis2 and mimesis3. Ricouer calls the preliminary understanding of action pre-understanding and refers to it in the context of the concept of mimesis1.

In the process of writing autobiography, mimesis1 represents the phase in which the author lives his or her life and forms the pre-understanding of it.

In the next phase, the narrative is organised into text; pre-understanding is transformed into a poetic totality. Ricouer calls this active process of textualisation mimesis2.

Mimesis2 constitutes the pivot of the narrative process. In this phase, singular events are organised into the plot muthos. According to Aristotle, "the imitation of action is the Plot" Aristotle ; Poetics, 50a1. Producing the plot is the most creative moment in the threefold process of mimesis. In the composition of the plot, the essential thing is that the narrator is the maker of plots Ricouer , 41 :. One feature of mimesis, then, is that it is directed more at the coherence of the muthos the plot than at its particular story.

Its making is immediately a universalizing "making". The whole problem of narrative Verstehen understanding is contained here in principle. To make up a plot is already to make the intelligible sprung from the accidental, the universal from the singular, the necessary or the probable from episodic. But the narrative process does not stop here. The story is told and adopted, and so it becomes part of the identity. The author begins to apply this new understanding to his or her own life.

There is, of course, no "simple" application of a story or self-understanding, because the story becomes altered over the course of the process of application. This application is mimesis3 and is also the starting point of a new pre-understanding of life, etc.. Here, Ricouer presents his own version of the Heideggerian "happening of truth in the work of art". Something new emerges the truth as happening and uncovering; the ontological enrichment when the author tells the story of his or her own life, and this something "new" begins to affect the author's life.

The written autobiography works as a Gadamerian picture Bild by which the author gets the sense of becoming more him or herself. The autobiography is not a copy of life Abbild. It does not re-present anything, but rather discloses and reveals the truth of being, the truth of the dynamic of oneself. The selfhood is always dynamic, and the very process of composing an autobiography alters it. The autobiography and the self are involved in a recursive relationship, which is why the process of autobiography is never-ending.

The hermeneutics of telling and re-telling the narrative identity can be presented in the following way:. Figure 2. The ontological enrichment of life and story see Gadamer , ; Ricouer , ; Widdershoven , In mimesis1, the life and its pre-understanding serve are the "original" Urbild. In mimesis1, fragmented stories about your self are in the form of "inner speech".

In mimesis2, you are in the phase of dictating your autobiography. Writing an autobiography is an indication of the need to "plot" these fragmented self-representations into a coherent "outer speech". The plot determines which memories we include and which memories we emphasise. The plot also determines how we consider the change in ourselves; which parts of us have changed and which have not.

In this way we create the narrative identity. Religious and ideological confessions are typical forms of narrative identities. According to David Carr, the selective nature of the process of mimesis2 is a sign of the presence of power Carr Thus, Althusser's and Foucault's concept of self only as "an ideological particle" is partially confirmed by Carr.

In mimesis3, I apply the written story to my life again. For example, in a religious confession, I confirm to myself and other people that my story is true and authentic. Through my words and deeds I begin to actualise this picture of me, which I have more or less intentionally created. As Jerome Bruner , 13 has put it: "Narrative imitates life, life imitates narrative".

According to Michael Foucault, reality is produced through the mechanisms of power. Foucault writes: "Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Foucault focuses his attention on the question of how power relations shape individuals. He does not question why people do what they do, and he considers individual identities to be formed through power relations.

Individuals cannot be determined and understood without taking into consideration the relations of power, which shape them. Similarly to his teacher, Louis Althusser, Foucault claims that an individual is an imaginary particle of the ideological representation of society. The individual is no doubt the fictitious atom of an "ideological" representation of society; but he is also a reality fabricated by this specific technology of power that I have called discipline In fact, power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth.

The individual and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production. Foucault , ; See also Foucault , An area in which the production of truth and its rituals works quite explicitly is that of sexuality. An immense apparatus for the production of truth regarding sexuality has been created. According to Foucault, there have been two great procedures for the production of the truth of sex in world history. On the other hand, there are certain societies China, Japan, India, Rome, the Arabo-Moslem societies which have developed various forms of the so-called "ars erotica" erotic art.

It is a form of esoteric knowledge, which aims at satisfaction evaluated in terms of its intensity, its specific qualities, its duration and its reverberations throughout the body and soul. Only masters and their students have access to this knowledge.

Narrative explanation

If successfully learns this masterful art, he or she must possess "an absolute mastery of the body, a singular bliss, obliviousness to time and limits, the elixir of life, the exile of death and its threats" Foucault , Foucault claims that our modern civilisation possesses no ars erotica, but that we instead practise scientia sexualis.

Over the centuries we have developed procedures for telling the truth of sex Heidegger might refer to this as "calculative thinking about sex. The development of this procedure has formed a kind of knowledge-power, which is opposite to the system in which the master reveals the secrets of the ars erotica to novices. What Foucault has in mind here is the western idea of confession:. The confession became one of the west's most highly valued techniques for producing truth. We have since become a singular confessing society.


The confession has spread its effects far and wide. It plays a part in justice, medicine, education, family relation, and love relations, in the most ordinary affairs of everyday life, and in the most solemn rites; one confess one's crimes, one's sins, one's thoughts and desires, one's illnesses and troubles; one goes about telling, with the greatest precision, what ever is most difficult to tell.

One confesses in public and in private, to one's parents, one's educators, one's doctor, to those one loves; one admits to oneself, in pleasure and in pain, things it would be impossible to tell to anyone else, the things people write books about" Foucault , I do confession in order to find out the truth about myself in this case the truth of my sexuality and in order to modify my personality in the manner required by hegemonic discourse by hegemonic discourse of sex.

Finding out the truth about myself is actually the precise moment of the production of the truth of myself.

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Without hegemonical discourse paradigmatic discourse, ideology, world view etc. Mechanisms of power are with me from the beginning; from the moment that I discover or produce my selfhood. Foucault encapsulated this by saying that western man has become a confessing animal. The need to practice confession is anchored so deeply in us that we cannot view it as being caused by power and power relations.

On the contrary, we feel that the truth as confession is an attempt to attain freedom from the depth of our soul. We think that truth and freedom belong together and that power reduces us to silence. These traditional themes in philosophy would have to be overturned, because the truth is not by nature free but its production is imbued with relations of power.

Foucault , Who had come to rejoin the Serbian resistance deep in the mountains [in the II world war]; his superiors asked him to write his life story; and when he brought them a few miserable pages, scribbled in the night, they did not look at them but only said to him, 'Start over, and tell the truth'. Should those much-discussed language taboos make us forget this millennial yoke of confession? We rationalise this absurd example by reasoning that with the help of confession it is possible to decipher between a spy and a true partisan. However, the question here is one of power and the making of a partisan through his life story as a ideological subject.

We can only imagine the anxiety of the partisan candidate in a situation such as this, which would have been completely foreign to him. In nowadays we are able to recognise the power aspect of confession and we are able to play the games of confession. One of us, Leena, had a personal experience related to this kind of confession-game:. I was at the entrance examination to the Academy of Kindergarten, and one part of the examination was an interview with a psychologist.

All of the candidates were informed beforehand that the interview would include two candidates and one psychologist, and that the topic of discussion would be the question: "Why I want to be a kindergarten teacher. Based on the information I had received prior to the interview, I was quite surprised when we were seated around the table and the psychologist said to us: "Tell me about the crises of your life. The other candidate talked about her parents' divorce, about a boyfriend who had a drinking problem and about experiencing feelings of loneliness following the death of her cat, and so on.

When it was my turn I said that it was enough of a crisis to try to get a spot at the Academy. This was not enough for psychologist. He asked: "Have you had any other crises. I answered: "What on earth do you mean by crises? Aren't there enough crises in normal everyday life? My partner, with all of his true stories, did not get in. The stories can also be viewed in the light of their practical consequences. In this view, the criteria of truth is the workableness of the story.

To be precise, pragmatism is not a truth theory, despite the fact that it has often been mentioned in conjunction with correspondence and coherence theories as one of the classics. Rather, it is a means of practically testing the truth, which has been verified in some other way. In pragmatism, the concept of truth is replaced with the concepts of workbleness and practicality. To simplify, according to pragmatism, good stories are beneficial and profitable, and bad stories are not.

Perhaps one of the best examples of the practical use of narratives is narrative psychotherapy. In recent family therapy, for example, the narrative viewpoint has become one of the main theoretical approaches. In psychological crises, the patient's self-narrative can be so incoherent or collapsed that nothing more than minute fragments of the self-narrative, which precedes the crisis can be seen. As the dominant self-narrative predicts the future, the collapsed or incoherent story makes the future seem chaotic as well.

In situations such as these, the therapist aims at helping the person or the group in question to create a more coherent self-narrative, which opens up new, more positive views for the future. From this view, the "truth" of the self-narrative remains an unessential point. The practical consequences establish the worth of the narrative. From a postmodern perspective, the truthfulness of the self-narrative is a minor concern. The most important aspect is how it actually works.