It Was Like a Fever Storytelling in Protest and Politics

ISBN-10: 0226673766

ISBN-13: 9780226673769

Edition: 2006

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Description: Activists and politicians have long recognized the power of a good story to move people to action. In early 1960 four black college students sat down at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and refused to leave. Within a month sit-ins spread to thirty cities in seven states. Student participants told stories of impulsive, spontaneous action—this despite all the planning that had gone into the sit-ins. “It was like a fever,” they said. Francesca Polletta’s It Was Like a Fever sets out to account for the power of storytelling in mobilizing political and social movements. Drawing on cases ranging from sixteenth-century tax revolts to contemporary debates about the future of the World Trade Center site, Polletta argues that stories are politically effective not when they have clear moral messages, but when they have complex, often ambiguous ones. The openness of stories to interpretation has allowed disadvantaged groups, in particular, to gain a hearing for new needs and to forge surprising political alliances. But popular beliefs in America about storytelling as a genre have also hurt those challenging the status quo. A rich analysis of storytelling in courtrooms, newsrooms, public forums, and the United States Congress, It Was Like a Fever offers provocative new insights into the dynamics of culture and contention.

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Book details

List price: $31.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 5/1/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

Preface
Why Stories Matter
"It was like a fever ...": Why People Protest
Strategy as Metonymy: Why Activists Choose the Strategies They Do
Stories and Reasons: Why Deliberation Is Only Sometimes Democratic
Ways of Knowing and Stories Worth Telling: Why Casting Oneself as a Victim Sometimes Hurts the Cause
Remembering Dr. King on the House and Senate Floor: Why Movements Have the Impacts They Do
Conclusion: Folk Wisdom and Scholarly Tales
Notes
Index
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