To effectively promote social change and bring different groups of people together, we have to start by engaging narratives. Narratives are cognitive frameworks, often unconscious, through which we filter new information and stories. What comes out on the other side are the worldviews and shortcuts we use to understand what’s happening around us.
Peacebuilders and social changemakers have a difficult task. They must work with diverse groups and individuals with vastly different narratives about pressing issues like who belongs, how important a given issue is, what’s driving conflict, and who is at fault. Narrative competency should be a fundamental aspect of our work as peacebuilders as we confront the challenges posed by social media, divided online communities, growing political polarization, and the manipulation of public discourse.
PartnersGlobal’s Narratives for Peace approach guides peacebuilders through the process of engaging with narratives, including looking at their own narrative frameworks, to avoid further polarization and isolating potential allies. Our approach underscores that the ultimate goal is not to change others’ narratives, but instead to engage with them and create shared meaning together.
The Narratives for Peace Guide, developed by PartnersGlobal and the Alliance for Peacebuilding with support from the U.S. Institute of Peace, is a call for the peacebuilding community to conscientiously analyze our own narratives and reflect on how we better incorporate different worldviews into a jointly constructed and more complex societal narrative of peace.