June 11, 2020

Stories inform, reinforce and ultimately control beliefs; and beliefs inform how stories are heard and valued.  In a society with advantaged and disadvantaged groups, the predominant narrative generally favors those with power.  To rectify that, a counter-story with particular persuasiveness must be crafted and communicated.

But counter-stories are not always the last word.  The advantaged group may be heard again, and a variety of techniques may be deployed to soften the counter-story or simply redirect the audience.  This article surveys those techniques and their efficacy, but concludes with a modestly optimistic note – since counter-stories arise to address fictions and omissions, they have the value of truth; and the author maintains that “[i]f you shoot enough counterstories at any master narrative, you will find that it is not so invincible after all.”

An additional value is found in this article – once one knows what is in the arsenal that will be directed at the counter-story, the disadvantaged can anticipate and hopefully deflect those responses or inoculate the audience to them.  A lesson for the disenfranchised, this is also a lesson for those in the courtroom who will face the likelihood of a rebuttal argument.



Hilde Lindemann SYMPOSIUM: COUNTER THE COUNTERSTORY: NARRATIVE APPROACHES TO NARRATIVES, 17 Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy 286, 286 June 2020