Narrative work is a critical aspect of producing complex stakeholder engagement processes. I demonstrate the value of attending to the effort and consequences of enactment forms of narrative work to complement attention to talk forms of narrative work. Through ethnographic analysis of a contentious planning effort, I show how master narratives structure expectations about what a “participatory process” involves, how narrative logics provide momentum for moving through an engagement process, and how storytelling represents perspectives, imagines futures, and persuades. I suggest prompts for investigating, designing, and troubleshooting narrative work to improve engagement processes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
I am grateful to Martha Feldman for introducing me to Grand Rapids and for her extraordinary wisdom and generosity as my mentor. I thank the many people in Grand Rapids who shared their time and insights on the Belknap neighborhood planning process. I also thankfully acknowledge thoughtful feedback on this paper from the editors, three reviewers, and Scott Bollens, Helen Ingram, Anne Taufen Wessells, John Forester, Karen Golden-Biddle, Melissa Stone, Suzanne Gagnon, Guillermo Narváez, Leslie Watson, Brynn Saunders, Victoria Fiorentino, and Mary Lou Garza. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
© The Author(s) 2018.
- contentious planning
- narrative analysis
- narrative construction of reality
- process design
- public participation
- stakeholder engagement processes