Getting the Story Right: A Constructivist Interpretation of Storytelling in the Context of UK Parliamentary Engagement

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Getting the Story Right: A Constructivist Interpretation of Storytelling in the Context of UK Parliamentary Engagement


  • Alex Michael Prior School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK


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Abstract:  This article examines Parliament’s use of storytelling techniques as a means of representing itself to citizens, and representing citizens to themselves. It does so with reference to the ‘constructivist turn’ in representation literature—particularly its emphasis on co-constitutive meaning-making—which, as this article shows, is also applicable to studies of engagement and narrative. Storytelling constitutes a vital means of engagement, yet has hitherto received insufficient scholarly attention within a parliamentary context. This lacuna is all the more significant when considering the emotional and often informal means of participation that increasingly characterise the UK’s political landscape. In relating storytelling to parliamentary engagement (and emphasising the co-constitutive qualities of both), an innovative visual analogy (based on fractals) will illustrate the conductivity of storytelling to two pursuits: Parliament’s attempts to represent itself within the political sphere, and its claims to be relevant to citizens. Both of these pursuits represent key tenets of Parliament’s responsibility to engage, and to mediate between citizens and governance. Through the theoretical lens presented here, Parliament’s attempts to engage through storytelling will be examined according to the techniques used, and their likelihood of reaching an audience that, in constructivist terms, is created through this act of representation.

Keywords:  constructivist turn; emotions; engagement; narrative; parliament; participation; representation; storytelling

Published:   28 December 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v6i4.1580


© Alex Michael Prior. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.