Real change will be possible only when we have changed the cultural narratives and mental models that shape how economic issues and solutions are identified. Narrative and culture shifts are also essential to building public and political will around progressive economic policies that will successfully address racial and gender wealth inequities and transform our current punitive social safety net programs. We are perhaps most challenged to overcome America’s highly dominant language and frame around personal responsibility.

  • Work with organizations and philanthropy to identify ways in which they may be inadvertently playing into harmful meta-narratives around personal responsibility, deservedness and anti-Blackness.
  • Incubate local narrative change efforts focused on arts and culture.
  • Work collectively with nonprofit organizations to develop common language, new frames and narratives across economic issues.

The Power of Narrative in Economic Policy

In the summer of 2016, the Insight Center embarked on an ethnographic research project to develop a policy agenda to address economic well-being and inequality. A pioneering organization in racial wealth inequity work, we were eager to understand which bold economic policies would resonate with a cross section of Americans — rural, urban, liberal, conservative and across race. We wanted to test how policies like baby bonds, universal childcare, federal jobs guarantee and guaranteed income — among others — held water across groups, and how they needed to be messaged to garner support. What we found was no matter what the policy platform is, our policy work could fail immensely without first tackling narrative. Read the full piece on Medium here.