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Here's a thread on what I've learned from researching narratives, which explains why they become an interpretative frame which people find very hard to change, even when facts refute their initial story. Using example of people opposed to Victorian police at locked down towers 👇
I've found that stories are a powerful structure of communication because they bound our awareness of information so that facts which fit the narrative are emphasised, and facts that don't fit bounce off. So basically stories blinker us - we make our realities fit them.
Why do we use some story frames and not others? Basically when we hear new information, we try to make sense of it by arranging it into a plot we understand. This usually means we try to find a story we've experienced in the past, and adapt the facts of the new situation to fit.
The choice of story we use is ideologically and culturally determined. So, for instance, relevant to my research, I found there are historically dominant 'template' stories lying around in our culture which are used by journalists to interpret industrial disputes.
What I've learned is that once you assign a story, you also assign archetypal characters which fit this story. So, for instance, lots of tweeps rushed to frame Andrews as the villain of the tower lockdowns. They told the story of Andrews calling in police as a 'bad faith' act.
Now, once this frame is set, it is very hard for people who have accepted this story to make sense of new information without using this story frame. Facts that don't fit this frame - such as Andrews saying 'I am protecting people, not punishing people', they just bounce off.
It also means when new facts emerge that don't fit the story, they are also ignored. When people heard there were nurses, social workers, rent relief, food deliveries, financial compensation delivered, this was ignored and the original 'Andrews is a villain' narrative kept going.
So when you're arguing with people who have accepted a different story - as I have been for last 24 hours - you need to know they're not going to change their story to accommodate yours. By the way, neither am I. So, what story was I using?
When I heard about lock down, I feared for this community as I know a virus spreading in such close quarters puts them all at risk. I immediately went to the 'victim' frame for residents in the building - victims of a creeping, contagious illness. This bounds my interpretation.
From this frame, I argue best way to protect community threatened by virus is to keep them in their homes. I also argue that though not ideal, a police presence is needed to ensure everyone protects themselves and others. Just as police have been used elsewhere for this reason.
Obviously I also want these people's needs met while they are in lock down. I am pleased to see these needs are being met - perhaps not perfectly, but to best of the ability of government. There should be no reason they feel the need to leave their homes and endanger themselves.
So, who is right? Well, the audience of these stories decide for themselves which story fits their cultural and ideological perspective of the situation. Pauline Hanson went straight for the 'racist' story because that's her favoured frame, every single time.
It's not a huge leap to see that once I put residents in the victim frame, I saw the police at the building as 'protectors of victims'. Conversely, those who saw the police as villains - there to persecute the residents rather than protect them - use a different frame for police.
People's experience of police will change the way they view them. I agree that many residents in the towers might feel fearful of police, because of their past experiences, and that's a problem. But that doesn't automatically mean police should not be there.
I use the metaphor of train tracks to explain how people are blinkered by narratives - they can only stick to the tracks they've already been placed on, and they push the train forward, arguing their point from that frame without accepting other people's stories.
So, here we all are arguing from our frames about whether Andrews has done the right thing or not. I just hope while this is going on the testing of the residents doesn't find the virus has spread further than the 20-30 cases already discovered. Which story are you telling? End.
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