G’day and welcome to this Friday afternoon video presentation from Dulwich Centre in which we invite you to join a project considering the challenges and possibilities in relation to narrative practices contributing to ‘social movement’. I’ve also included various links to texts and videos below. We hope to hear from you to continue the conversation!
References and further information:
I will include here the references to various texts and videos that I mention in the presentation.
Narrative methodologies being used within movements
I want to also clarify that in no way would I suggest that the field of narrative practice is a social movement. I think Michael White clarifies this, in no uncertain terms, in the interview Direction and discovery: A conversation about power and politics in narrative therapy:
Michael Hoyt: I want to ask another basic question, if I could. I hear these days some people referring to narrative therapy as a kind of social movement, or a kind of liberation philosophy. It is being identified in some circles as politically ‘left-wing’. Have you heard these sorts of things? Is it your intention for narrative therapy to be perceived in these ways?
Michael White: I have heard people reflect on narrative therapy in these ways and have some concern that such descriptions could be trivialising and diminishing of the courage expressed in, and of the very significant contributions and achievements of, various social movements. I do not know of any therapists who have risked their lives and the safety of their families, who have totally compromised their security, or who have been exiled due to their involvement in narrative therapy. And yet these experiences are often had by people who participate in social movements, and in initiatives that are informed by liberation philosophy.
And there are other reasons why the description of narrative therapy as a social movement does not fit for me. I don’t know how it is that narrative therapy could be constructed as a social movement, or as a kind of liberation philosophy. Social movements, in my understanding, are broad-based and issue focussed, very often addressing wider social justice issues from a variety of political platforms. In this sense, I don’t believe that there is anything about what I understand to be narrative therapy that would allow it to make any claim to be a social movement or a liberation philosophy.
As well, the liberation philosophies principally focus on the forces of oppression and repression. And, as an outcome of their association with liberal humanism, these movements usually incorporate a strong vision or narrative about how things could otherwise be in the world. Contrast this with the agenda that is explicit in narrative therapy. This is to engage in some local inquiry into what is happening, into how things are becoming other than what they were, or into the potential for things to become other than what they are. It is to engage in the rich description of the knowledges and skills of living expressed in this, and in an exploration of the possibilities, limitations and possible dangers associated with how things are and with how they are becoming other than what they were. Although I believe that this emphasis provides for a socially and politically sensitive practice, I want to reiterate that I don’t believe that there is anything about these practices that could constitute narrative therapy as a social movement. (White, 2000, pp. 112-113).