Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Narrative and the Problems of National Cognition

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Narrative and the Problems of National Cognition

Article excerpt


Research of narrative phenomenon and its theoretical representation is necessary for solution of the question of the essence and mechanisms of formation of national identity. Functionally the narrative represented in theoretical tradition of contemporary social science features an important instrument of production and reproduction of meaning. Moreover, in many aspects the ideological constituent of narratives demonstrates the specifics of social interests that represent the global interest of a nation. In this aspect national narratives are also forced to adapt to dynamically changing social realias, including political and ideological tasks that are solved by a national community. And namely the image-symbolic nature of narrative defines the fact that it has become the most important instrument of interpretation of the past, in order to adapt to the present and to trace the perspective of future nation development.


Methodological orientation of authors is built on the logic of compositionality that suggests a construction of a certain composition unity of phenomenon in specific aspect. One of the basic foundations of this work is the hermeneutical philosophy tradition represented by the theory of P. Ricoeur, and also the theoretical-methodological principles of analytical philosophy of language.


The well-known American historian and literature critic Hayden White in his work "The problem of narrative in contemporary historical science" analyzes the discussion around narrative problem that has been unfolding within several decades in Western social science. He distinguished four the most influent directions in narrative representation. The first one is introduced by English-American analytical school (Walsh, Gardiner, Drei, Morton etc.) which is characterized by striving to justify the epistemological status of narrative as the method of explanation, first of all, of historical events, as distinct from natural processes. The second direction of "socially-scientifically" oriented historians is most brightly represented by French school of "Annals" (Braudel, Fourret, Le Goff, LeRoi etc.). The narrative historiography was considered by them as a non-scientific, further still, ideologically representative strategy, which eradication is necessary for transformation of historical knowledge into genuine science. The third direction, represented by semiologically oriented literary theoretics and philosophers (Barth, Foucaud, Derrida, Krysteva, Eco etc.), considers narrative as one of multiple discourse "codes" that could be or not an adequate method for reality representation, depending on pragmatical aims of discourse bearer only. The fourth direction was developed by hermeneutically oriented philosophers, such as Gadamer and Ricoeur who were considering the narrative as a manifestation of specific types of the time of consciousness or of the structure of time in discourse (White, 1984).

Even a brief mentioning of theoretics representing these four directions (which are certainly not limiting) in rendition and researching of the narrative demonstrates that in last decades it gained the status of cross-discipline method of cognition and has become the most important instrumentarium of contemporary science, including historical. Without assigning to this article the task to analyze benefits and drawbacks on narrative understanding in works of thinkers of presented directions, it should be noted that attention to the essence of narrative, its functionality continues to gain the force in the community of social and humanitarian researchers.

In our opinion, the most important function of narrative is the production of meaning. This ability of narrative is noted by many researches. A deep elaboration of this peculiarity was conducted by P. Ricoeur with the emphasis on ontological relation between human experience and narration about it. Actually, in course of comprehension of experience, its estimation, the "assignation" of meaning is conducted, and it happens namely in the frames of narrative. …

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