Certain narratives gain traction and narrow our thinking.
Stories are powerful. They can present a complex situation in an engaging human way. Sometimes they are too simple and a particular story becomes the only way something is understood. Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie coins this way of thinking, a single story.
When a story is endlessly repeated it assumes the status of truth. Single stories can be dangerous, not because they are untrue: there is always some truth to a single story. The danger is when the one story becomes the only story.
Gender and Development is sometimes presented as a single story: it’s a story of women gradually improving their position in society through projects focused on economic growth. A single story also influences our view of people in so-called developing countries. They are represented as poor, powerless and suffering.
Watch Adichie’s 2009 TED talk: The danger of a single story and consider:
- the kinds of stereotypes Adichie was subjected to and also the stereotypes she held
- her argument that this approach, where complexity is reduced to a simple narrative, distorts our perceptions of others
- what happens when we reduce complex societies to simple stereotypes, to a single narrative.
What struck you as most powerful? Jot down your thoughts in the comments section.
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