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Words and Actions

Mar 13, 2020

We recorded this episode in September 2019, when Britain was still part of the European Union and the Brexit debate was in full swing. At the beginning of the episode, we talk about a contribution to a debate in the British House of Commons that started with a story. The transcript can be found on our website:  We then discuss how people relate life events, such as a divorce, by telling stories rather than completing questionnaires, as shown in the research by sociologist Catherine Riessman: 


C. K. (1990). Divorce

Talk: Women and men make sense of personal relationships.

New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 

The classical account of stories as a product is linked with the name of William Labov, while Alexandra Georgakopoulou has more recently refocused narrative research on storytelling as a social process:


W., & Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis: oral versions of personal experience. In J. Helm (ed.)

Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts.

Seattle: University of Washington Press, pp. 12-44.



 A. (2019). Sharing the moment as small stories: the interplay between practices & affordances in the social media-curation of lives. In A. De Fina &  S. Perrino (eds)

Storytelling in the Digital World.

Amsterdam: Benjamins, pp.105-127.

Moving on to corporate stories, the history of Ben & Jerry’s, as told by themselves, can be found here:

Erika mentions how Ben & Jerry’s , and indeed any corporate story now gets co-written on social media, as detailed in this book:


 R. (2018). Narratives

 Online: shared stories in social media.

 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

An example of brand stories being co-told by consumers is the KitKat chocolate bar, which actually has a hashtag on the product itself.

Moving on to the interview, our guest for this episode is Professor David Boje from New Mexico State University:,

At the beginning of the interview, David Boje mentions how his approach to stories was fundamentally changed when he met Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, an artist, scholar and coach who espouses the concept of people as ‘living stories’ connected to nature. You can find out more about her work and philosophy here: 

David then talks about the 1981 play Tamara

 by John Krizanc,which is based on an actual meeting between the 1920s painters Tamara de Lempicka and Gabriele d’Annunzio at his villa near Lake Garda in Italy. The play allows the audience to follow the actors into rooms of their choice, so every audience member witnesses a different storyline. He uses the set-up of the play as an analogy for multinational companies that have different ‘living stories’ in multiple locations. David’s previous work on the Disney corporation is of particular interest here: 


 D. M. (1995). Stories of the storytelling organization: a postmodern analysis of Disney as “Tamara-Land”.

Academy of Management Journal,


We then move on to David’s more recent work, specifically his book on stories around the climate emergency:

Boje, D. M. (2019).

Storytelling in the Global Age: there is no Planet B.

London: World Scientific. 

Staying with the topic of climate emergency, we analyse the opening of a TED talk that climate activist Greta Thunberg gave in November 2018. On our website you can find the transcript and analytical points.