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The Culture Hack Curriculum

Understanding Narratives

For us to understand narratives, it is important to identify and distinguish between narratives, their narrative form and the narrative spaces within which they exist.

Narratives can be understood as interpretive social structures that frame our experience and function to bring meaning to our everyday reality, guiding our actions and decisions. For example, the narratives about nature that we find in western culture are completely different to those we find in indigenous cultures.

Narratives are not just a collection of stories or messages, they are complex, adaptive, evolutionary systems, which we call the narrative form. These narrative forms are alive, they can evolve, mutate, terminate and converge with each other within a specific cultural context. Narrative forms essentially drive how we understand the world.

A Narrative space is where a group of narrative forms coexist and interact with each other within a specific time frame. 

In this module’s notes you will learn more about what constitutes a narrative form and how it behaves with the narrative space.


  1. Western culture tends to view nature as separate to humans whereas Indigenous cultures, while heterogenous, all tend to collapse the nature/culture binary. Read more.
  2. It is important to understand that narrative forms always emerge within an ecosystem of other narrative forms. These narrative forms express different aspects of a social phenomena or event. For example, in the CHL Transforming the Transition Report (2020) we showed how the narrative forms of ‘solidarity’ and ‘individual freedom’ lived side by side in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Although each of these narrative forms had very different expressions they were in an ongoing relationship with one another.