The Potential of Narrative Strategies in the Discursive Construction of Hegemonic Positions and Social Change

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This chapter illustrates ways in which narrative strategies contribute to the construction of hegemonic processes of social change. Narratives have transformational power because they shape new imaginaries about social life, help to legitimate them and create consensus. It is argued that effective hegemony constitutes power over social reality and will be generally accepted as a ‘matter of course’. This chapter is based on a study of the struggle for hegemony between former Mexican President Gortari and the Zapatista movement and integrates a Gramscian view on hegemony with discourse theory (Laclau and Mouffe 1985). The study contributes to the development of discourse theory on hegemony, using the concept of three levels of abstraction, or ‘orders of discourse’, found in Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 2001, 2003); and a discourse-historical approach (Reisigl and Wodak 2001). A comparison is made with Eleveld’s study of storylines (this volume) and Filardo Llamas’ text worlds, leading to the presentation of criteria for qualitative research and some ideas for further research.


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