Storylistening: a case study in how to include the humanities in evidence provided for public reasoning

by Sarah Dillon and Claire Craig

30 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy, volume 10 (2022)
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Abstract: There is increasing recognition across all public issues, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the climate crisis, that taking into account a range of types of evidence is essential to good decision-making. It remains far less clear how such evidence, especially that from the humanities, might be gathered and incorporated into public reasoning and what might need to change to enable that to happen. Storylistening provides a framework for the theory and practice of gathering narrative evidence to inform decision-making, especially in relation to public reasoning, as part of a pluralistic evidence base. The framework consists of four cognitive and collective functions of stories that render them of value to decision making: modelling, points of view, identities and anticipation. By describing how to put storylistening into practice, this commentary highlights how the humanities and advisory structures need to evolve, with implications for narrative studies and for the public humanities more broadly.

Keywords: Storylistening, narrative evidence, decision-making, public reasoning, modelling, points of view, identities, anticipation, humanities, advisory structures.

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