"It’s reasonable, for example, for a corporation to ponder who would be the best CEO or COO, but it’s not reasonable for us to expect that we could take any one of those actors and replace them with another person and get dramatically different results without changing the structures, incentives and forces that shape how they and their companies act in this world."

Zeynep Tüfekçi is dropping 🔥 through a most unexpected angle: Game of Thrones.


‘“Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.”
“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”’

“Well-run societies don’t need heroes, and the way to keep terrible impulses in check isn’t to dethrone antiheros and replace them with good people. Unfortunately, most of our storytelling—in fiction and also in mass media nonfiction—remains stuck in the hero/antihero narrative.”

These are the money observations near the end. The media studies analysis earlier in the piece is also very interesting.

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“In sociological storytelling, the characters have personal stories and agency, of course, but those are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The incentives for characters’ behavior come noticeably from these external forces, too, and even strongly influence their inner life. … The overly personal mode of storytelling or analysis leaves us bereft of deeper comprehension of events and history.”

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"The hallmark of sociological storytelling is if it can encourage us to put ourselves in the place of any character, not just the main hero/heroine, and imagine ourselves making similar choices."

What other works of sociological storytelling are recommended?

I absolutely love sociological storytelling, though today's the first time I've heard the phrase. I often tell people "Yeah you gotta check out X! The society-building is amazing! Just ignore the parts about the characters."

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Naomi 's "Spinning Silver" novel blew me away on the strength of its sociological storytelling—not just worldbuilding but showing how social parameters configure individuals' universe of options, even if a character's final response is creative and out-of-the-box.

I was vaguely aware that she was doing some very funny things with the tsar, and some clever things with the ice dude, but idgaf about that shit.

The choices for women. For Jews. The shackles of society. Give me more of that.

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Yeah. Sociological storytelling.

I probably won't read Game of Thrones, and I loved The Wire—this interview with David Simon about the heinous atrocities visited upon Baltimore's black neighborhoods by then-mayor Martin O'Malley has shaped my views on how racism tactically ruins the oppressed and the oppressors:


But other than those two, what other sociological storytelling epics, in which mediums, are out there?

Tolstoy? Titus Livy? Emma manga?

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@22 Sociological storytelling epics -- Balzac and Zola, and Dickens. (Dickens is an amazing writer partly because his characters are such -- such -- such plot-moppets, such illustrative cases that even their names are like placeholders. And then they're deep characters anyway. Ditto Balzac. Zola less so, I think, but I think he's really great on the *material* constrictions of life.

@clew Father Goriot is on. Getting the tissues ready. Thank you!!!

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