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[su-re venture] Narrative analysis explained - How, but not why

In the TIPPING+ project that I wrote about yesterday, we will be conducting a narrative analysis on the transformative lines of mainstream and alternative energy. Narrative analysis is a method of analysis that understands the story of "how" a situation happened rather than the input and output analysis of "why" and "what" happened. There has been a similar analysis method before, and it is one of the analysis methods that is gaining attention again as the narrative analysis. It has even recently become the name of a Gundam title as well (^^).

In the TIPPING+ project, we use this narrative analysis to find the main story of our fossil fuel use and the alternative stories we can use to think about the future. It's a form of vision formation.

In the mainstream narrative, the mainstream energy, coal-fired power generation, will continue to be used. In fact, Indonesia is the only major nation where coal is increasingly used to generate electricity. We will also consider the narrators' story (stakeholders and institutions), who are the dominant stakeholders in power and perpetuate the mainstream narrative. We identify the policy environment that perpetuates that mainstream narrative, including the technology value chain, workforce, stakeholders, institutions and policies that support the system. Dividing the policy and environment into supporting and imposing sides gives the narrative a shape more in line with the market mapping introduced earlier, but this has not been discussed in the project. It may also consider scales and levels of governance beyond the narrative's immediate target region (e.g. ASEAN). By documenting mainstream narratives and narrators, it is possible to understand how the current situation has developed within the target region.

Alternative narratives are about listening to stories of a future different from the current situation, with narrators other than the dominant stakeholders. There is an infinite number of possible futures, but the on-stream pathway is the future that passes from the status quo to normalcy, among others. For the most part, mainstream perspectives continue to be accepted, while alternative perspectives, such as gender and climate change, are also considered. However, this is the future where mainstream pathways are not rejected and are arrived at without challenging the dominant interests.

Off-stream pathways, on the other hand, challenge the mainstream perspective. The narrator will be a stakeholder or institution in a position of opposition to power. In the case of stakeholders seeking to move away from a fossil fuel-dependency, this is a pathway that is very unlikely to be realised in normal operation, as their narrative will demand policies that promote low carbon innovation. This perspective is incompatible with the mainstream. But what is the background that comes out in the narrative?

The transformative pathway includes previously marginalised groups to change the power dynamics of the dominant pathway. In doing so, we are creating an unthinkable future when we were previously considering individual stakeholders.

In our case in Indonesia, the mainstream status quo is fossil fuels. In terms of rural energy access, the on-stream pathway uses subsidies to promote LPG to rural areas. Off-stream pathways could include biogas, ferret and other technologies, but these are unlikely to become major at the moment. What kind of transformative pathways exist in this context? This is something we will be studying over the next few years.

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