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The Culture Hack Curriculum

The Narrative Form Model

This is the CHL Narrative Form Model which helps us to understand how narratives exist in the world. The key thing to understand here is that the way we understand the world (the narrative form), determines how we act in the world. 

The narrative form has a material layer and a virtual layer. If you imagine that you are a narrative. The material layer represents all your external actions, expressions and communications. The virtual layer represents everything inside of you, the sensations, your concepts and intentions. 

Figure 1: The layers of the Narrative Form 

Narrative forms function in the same way as our bodies, except that sensation happens not just through one human body but through multiple human bodies in coordinated and connected networks. Narratives are social and allow for collective sense making. 

Narrative forms are created through three processes. 

The first process is perceiving sensations which then convert into concepts through frames  and metaphors. 

Figure 2: Moving from sensation to concepts 

The second process happens when concepts become intentions through ideological constructs and logics. 

Figure 3: Moving from concepts to intentions

These intentions are then revealed in the material layer through our actions and behavior.

The key thing to understand here is that the way we understand the world (the narrative form), determines how we act in the world. 


  1. It is useful here to think about how cognition works in our bodies. When we are walking, our bodies are sensing the environment, this information is made into concepts about the road and thereafter we can develop intentions about our next steps. This understanding of cognition is called the Embodiment Cognition Thesis and has gained much traction in cognitive science in the last two decades.
  2. Frames are largely subconscious, narrative structures which allow us to immediately make sense of the world. Read more.
  3. Metaphors are comparisons between two things, so we can understand one thing in terms of another.
  4. Ideological constructs/ideologies bring multiple frames into larger structured relationships. These frames are coordinated through a system of justification that contains internal logic.
  5. When we go deep into ideologies, we can see logics. For example, the logic underlying the ideological construct of neoliberalism is that you need money to live, therefore money = life = God.