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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Storytelling to save the planet: who gets to say what is sustainable, who tells the stories, and who should listen and change?

Joosse, Sofie; Westin, Martin; Mockel, Fanny; Keasey, Holly; Lorenzen, Soenke


In the last decade, storytelling has been popularised as a method for societal sustainability transformations. With this growing popularity, there has also been a rapid increase in those identifying as storytellers. Perhaps because storytelling for sustainability has an innocent ring to it, it has not yet been studied from a power perspective. However, as it is fast-spreading and has explicit change purposes, it is important to clarify assumptions about knowledge, power and change. This article offers a first step towards understanding and evaluating the wide variety of applications behind the label of storytelling for sustainability. We perform a frame analysis of how storytellers describe their storytelling for sustainability. Our findings demonstrate that the label of storytelling for sustainability encompasses fundamentally different ideas about whose knowledge counts. The article raises critical questions that can help assess the legitimacy and appropriateness of different applications of storytelling for sustainability.


storytelling; sustainability; power; reification; stories

Published in

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
2024, Volume: 67, number: 9, pages: 1909-1927