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It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics

Canadian Journal of Sociology Online (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) , July-August 2007


Francesca Polletta's latest book, It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics, University of Chicago Press, 2006, tells a story as richly textured, complex and ambiguous as the various political narratives she analyses. Her premise is that social movement scholars have not fully explored the ways in which movement collectivities use storytelling to mobilize for social change.

Standard wisdom has it that disadvantaged groups use their stories "give voice" to their struggles if you will to gain valuable political resources in the public arena.

Polletta provides a more nuanced view. She maintains that using narratives is often a double-edged sword for such groups, with both benefits and important risks. Further, stories are received differently, depending upon who is telling the story, when they are telling it, and for what reason. This opens the way for Polletta to develop a "sociology of storytelling" in social movements.

Subjects Covered: business, education

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