Newcastle University Business School

Event Item

Counter-Narratives and Narrative Ecologies: Nostalgic Stories and Conspiracy theories in right wing ideologies

Date/Time: Wednesday 29 March 2017, 16:00-18:00

Venue: Room 4.23, Newcastle University Business School

Speaker: Yiannis Gabriel, Professor of Organisational Theory at Bath University

Narratives and counter-narratives, far from being locked in a battle to the death, depend on each other, need each other and co-create each other. By examining nostalgic stories and conspiracy theories, Yiannis Gabriel proposes that narratives and counter-narratives are elements of narrative ecologies.

These are spaces where, by analogy to natural ecologies, different types and populations of narrative emerge, interact, compete, adapt, develop and die. Yiannis' research concludes by delineating certain types of narrative ecology, such as narrative deserts, narrative monocultures and narrative jungles.

Nostalgic narratives and conspiracy theories have become major parts of right wing ideologies. Conspiracy theories represent a quest for scapegoats, sometimes in the form of ‘parasites’, people or groups who take and give nothing back. Nostalgia, for its part, exacerbates a desire for the return of a mythical past, free of parasites and undesirables. Both conspiracy theories and nostalgia play a central part in ideologies of extreme right-wing movements such as the New Dawn.

This seminar will develop the argument that the rise of conspiracy theories and xenophobic nostalgia can be viewed as warning signs of miasma, a highly contagious state of material, psychological and spiritual pollution that descends plague-like, and afflicts entire communities, organisations or nations. Miasma dissolves love bonds and leaves a community dominated by fear, guilt, hate, despair and lies.


Yiannis Gabriel is Professor of Organisational Theory at Bath University. Yiannis has a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. He is well known for his work into organizational storytelling and narratives, leadership, management learning and the culture and politics of contemporary consumption. He has used narratives as a way of studying numerous social and organisational phenomena including leader-follower relations, group dynamics and fantasies, nostalgia, insults and apologies. Another area of his work has been dedicated to developing a psychoanalytic approach to the study of organisations. He is Senior Editor of Organisation Studies and is the author of nine books, most recently The Unmanageable Consumer (with Tim Lang). His enduring fascination as a researcher lies in what he describes as the unmanageable qualities of life in and out of organizations. He regularly posts to his blog

Research group: Human Resource Management, Work and Employment