Stories that Change Our World? Narratives of the Sustainable Economy

  • A. Guske
  • K. Jacob
  • Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers
  • Jan Peuckert
  • Stefan Schridde
  • Sven Stinner
  • Dr. Franziska Wolff
  • Dominik Zahrnt
  • Florence Ziesemer

Narratives are shaping our understanding of the world. They convey values and norms and point to desirable future developments. In this way, they justify and legitimize political actions and social practices. Once a narrative has emerged and this world view is supported by broad societal groups, narratives can provide powerful momentum to trigger innovation and changes in the course of action. Narratives, however, are not necessarily based on evidence and precise categories, but can instead be vague and ambiguous in order to be acceptable and attractive to different actors. However, the more open and inclusive a narrative is, the less impact can be expected. We investigate whether there is a shared narrative in research for the sustainable economy and how this can be evaluated in terms of its potential societal impact. The paper carves out the visions for the future that have been underlying the research projects conducted within the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funding programme “The Sustainable Economy”. It then analyzes whether these visions are compatible with narratives dominating societal discourse on the sustainable economy, and concludes how the use of visions and narratives in research can contribute to fostering societal transformations.