Stories Communities Tell: How Deliberative Practitioners Can Work with Community Narratives

Abstract

How do past experiences of public engagement shape the way communities view the role of public input today? In this article, we examine the case of a community in a mid-Atlantic college town whose civic history is shaped by stories of skepticism and hope regarding past experiences of public decision-making. We use methods of interpretive analysis to surface their stories—the tensions, the plot, the actors, and complicating events—to understand how communities make sense of their roles in civic life, the norms they share, and the values they wish their communities can practice. We argue that being attuned to the storied nature of civic culture provides an invaluable resource for practitioners of dialogue and deliberation to adapt the design of public engagement in a way that speaks to past experiences and brings forth the communities’ shared aspirations.

Keywords

narrative, public problem solving, civic culture, sense-making

How to Cite

Britt L. & Alexander R., (2019) “Stories Communities Tell: How Deliberative Practitioners Can Work with Community Narratives”, Journal of Public Deliberation 15(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.16997/jdd.344

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Authors

Lori L. Britt (James Madison University)
Rob Alexander (James Madison University)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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