It's Not Just Who You Know, but Can You Tell a Story? The Role of Narratives in Network Governance

Published date01 March 2014
Date01 March 2014
Book Reviews 277
R. Patrick Bixler recently received his
PhD from the Sociology Department at
Colorado State University, where he has
taught courses in environmental sociology.
He is currently a research fellow at the
Pinchot Institute for Conservation in
Washington, D.C. His main areas of study
include social networks in environmental
governance, community-based conserva-
tion, and social learning in collaborative
conservation. His current research focuses
on landscape conservation in the Crown of
the Continent.
and Guattari 1987; Haraway 2008; Latour 2004).2
is approach will further be elaborated throughout
this review. e Power of Narrative in Environmental
Analysis makes an important contribution to this
conversation with the conceptual framework of the
narrative-network, and this contribution deserves
serious ref‌l ection among scholars who are interested
in environmental governance, planning, and policy
e intellectual contribution of this book is the
authors’ ability to give attention to the ways in which
stories or narratives undergird network connections
through a narrating and network-organizational dia-
lectic. In this sense, the “narrative enables the network
to form and function . . . is the underlying logic . . .
and the network understands itself through narrative,
and it represents itself through narration” (49–50). To
illustrate this, the book is divided into three sections.
e f‌i rst three chapters provide a thorough theoretical
foundation on which the empirical chapters, chapters
4–6, are grounded.  e concluding chapter synthe-
sizes the empirical chapters to draw conclusions on
expanding ecological imaginations and coexisting in
heterogeneous networks.
A major underlying theme of the book is a meta-
narrative of coexistence. As the authors note, “Our
Raul Lejano, Mrill Ingram, and Helen Ingram, e
Power of Narrative in Environmental Networks
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2013). 225 pp. $44.00
(cloth), ISBN: 9780262019378, $22.00 (paper),
ISBN: 9780262519571.
Raul Lejano, Mrill Ingram, and Helen Ingram
have made multiple contributions to the f‌i eld
of environmental governance and policy over
the past two decades.1 eir collective scholarship has
highlighted the importance of place and local context,
the ef‌f ect of networks on knowing and management,
policy analysis, and analysis of environmental
conservation case studies across a variety of resource
sectors. In e Power of Narrative in Environmental
Analysis, these authors make a timely contribution at
the intersection of two increasingly prevalent methods
to analyze environmental governance: social networks
and narrative. Many disciplinary and interdisciplinary
ef‌f orts are under way to understand networked
environmental governance in theory and in practice.
From a network perspective, these arrangements are
characterized by multiactor collaborations and a focus
on adaptability, knowledge, and learning. From a nar-
rative perspective, ef‌f orts to explain this governance
paradigm draw on a philosophy of relationality,
which is increasingly being labeled “assemblage
theory” (drawing from the philosophies of Deleuze
It’s Not Just Who You Know, but Can You Tell a Story?  e
Role of Narratives in Network Governance
Sonia M. Ospina and Rogan Kersh, Editors
R. Patrick Bixler
Colorado State University
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 2, pp. 277–280. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12188.

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