The Will of the Gods and Goddesses: Shaping or Disrupting the World Through Storytelling

  • Emma Parfitt
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Alternative Education book series (PSAE)


This chapter examines young people’s thoughts on terrorism and fear of unemployment, racism and bullying, social mobility, adult authority, suicide and risk taking, and social values. Issues of authority are debated by examining how young people, from similar and different social backgrounds, linked oral storytelling to their personal narratives. The previous chapter proposed that young people learn how to interact with others through the pressures placed on them, via stories like fairy tales, to follow the morals and values of the society that they live in. This chapter questions this process by demonstrating how young people negotiate complex situations utilising their own judgement and agency. Yet at the same time there appears to be limited scope for resistance in opposition to authority figures, like parents and teachers. This idea raises issues about the control of young people’s behaviour by authority figures and organisations, such as education. Therefore, a caution about the ways in which storytelling can be used to manipulate rather than liberate, and the ethical considerations which affect storytellers, educators, researchers and other professionals working with storytelling.


  1. Atkinson, A. B. (2015). Inequality. What can be done? Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bradley, P. (2013). Romancing the soap: Representations of gay love and relationships in Eastenders. In P. Demory & C. Pullen (Eds.), Queer love in film and television: Critical essays (pp. 33–47). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Britzman, D. P. (1998). Lost subjects, contested objects: Towards a psychoanalytic inquiry of learning. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bush, K. (2010). What we have learned about storytelling in: The evaluation of storytelling as a peace-building methodology. Irish Peace Centres & International Conflict Research Institute (Experimental learning paper no. 5). Available at: Accessed 3 Mar 2018.
  5. Clark, G., & Cummins, N. (2015). Intergenerational wealth mobility in England, 1858–2012: Surnames and social mobility. Economic Journal London, 125(582), 61–85. Scholar
  6. Clark, W. A. V., van Ham, M., & Coulter, R. (2014). Spatial mobility and social outcomes. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 29(4), 699–727. Scholar
  7. Dorling, D. (2014). Thinking about class. Sociology, 48(3), 452–462. Scholar
  8. Estés, C. P. (1996). Women who run with the wolves: Contacting the power of the wild woman. London: Rider.Google Scholar
  9. Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1995). A dialogue: Culture, language and race. Harvard Educational Review, 65(3), 377–402.
  10. Gottschall, J. (2013). The storytelling animal. How stories make us human. New York: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  11. Grove, N. (2012). Story, agency and meaning making: Narrative models and the social inclusion of people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Journal of Religion, Disability and Heath, 16(4), 334–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grove, N. (Ed.). (2015). Using storytelling to support children and adults with special needs. Transforming lives through telling tales (pp. 18–24). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Grove, N., Bunning, K., Porter, J., & Olsson, C. (1999). See what I mean: Interpreting the meaning of communication by people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 12, 190–203. Scholar
  14. Heathfield, D. (2011). Storytelling to celebrate cultural diversity. Teaching English. British Council. Available from: Accessed 9 Jan 2018.
  15. Heathfield, D. (2014). Storytelling with our students: Techniques for telling tales from around the world. Surrey/England: DELTA Publishing.Google Scholar
  16. Heinemeyer, C., & Durham, S. (2017). Is narrative an endangered species in schools’? Secondary pupil’s understanding of ‘storyknowing’. Research in Education, 99(1), 31–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hochschild, A. (2012). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling (3rd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Jones, O. (2011). Chavs: The demonization of the working class. London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Khan, S. R. (2012). Privilege: The making of an adolescent elite at St. Paul’s School. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Klapproth, D. (2004). Narrative as social practice: AngloWestern and Australian aboriginal oral traditions. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Massa, K. (2017). Storytelling as a strategy to increase oral language proficiency of second language learners. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Accessed 9 Jan 2018.
  22. Mecchia, G. (2010). Philosophy and its poor: Rancière’s critique of philosophy. In J. Deranty (Ed.), Jacques Rancière key concepts (pp. 38–54). Durham: Acumen.Google Scholar
  23. Mills, C. (2014). The great british class Fiasco: A comment on Savage et al. Sociology, 48(3), 437–444. Scholar
  24. Plummer, K. (1995). Telling sexual stories: Power, change and social worlds. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Plummer, K. (2011, October 17). On narrative. Annual methods lab lecture. London: Goldsmiths College. Available at: Accessed 6 May 2016.
  26. Rancière, J. (1991). The ignorant schoolmaster. Five lessons in intellectual emancipation (K. Ross, Trans.). Standford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Roberts, K. (2011). Class schemes and scales. In Class in contemporary Britain. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Robinson, C., & Taylor, C. (2013). Student voice as a contested practice: Power and participation in two student voice projects. Improving Schools, 16(1), 32–46. Scholar
  29. Russell, G. (2015). The myth of middle-class Middleton. British Heritage Society. Available at: Accessed 20 Feb 2018.
  30. Salverson, J. (1999). Transgressive storytelling or an aesthetic of injury: Performance, pedagogy and ethics. Theatre Research in Canada, 20(1), N/A.Google Scholar
  31. Salverson, J. (2008). Taking liberties: A theatre class of foolish witnesses. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 13(2), 245–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sargeant, J., & Gillett-Swan, J. K. (2015). Empowering the disempowered through voice-inclusive practice: Children’s views on adult-centric educational provision. European Educational Research Journal, 14(2), 177–191. Scholar
  33. Savage, M., Devine, F., Cunningham, N., Taylor, M., Li, Y., Hjellbrekke, J., Le Roux, B., Friedman, S., & Miles, A. (2013). A new model of social class? Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment. Sociology, 47(2), 219–250. Available from: Accessed 3 Sept 2015.
  34. Schimel, L. (1994). Journeybread recipe. In T. Windling & E. Datlow (Eds.), Black thorn, white rose. New York: Open Road.Google Scholar
  35. Simms, E. (2017). Knock Twice. 25 modern folk tales for troubling times. The Real Press.Google Scholar
  36. Stone, R. (2005). The healing art of storytelling. New York/London: Authors Choice Press.Google Scholar
  37. Sullivan, A. (2001). Cultural capital and educational attainment. Sociology, 35(4), 893–912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tatar, M. (1992). Off with their heads! Fairy tales and the culture of childhood. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Tibbetts, J. (1998). G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936). In R. Winks (Ed.), Chesterton articles. Mystery and suspense writers. New York: Scribner’s. [Online] Available from: Accessed 4 Mar 2018.
  40. Tyler, I. (2015, May 13). Classificatory struggle: Class culture and inequality in neo-liberal times. [Lecture] A public lecture with Imogen Tyler at Warwick University. Social Theory Centre Annual Lecture 2015.Google Scholar
  41. Van der Kolk. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  42. Wilson, M. (1997). Performance and practice: Oral narrative traditions among teenagers in Britain and Ireland. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, J. (2018). Jess Wilson – Bleddfa storyteller. Guest blog. Available at:
  44. Zipes, J. (1983). Breaking the magic spell: Radical theories of folk and fairy tales. London/New York: Routledge. Originally published in 1979.Google Scholar
  45. Zipes, J. (2006). Fairy tales and the art of subversion (2nd ed.). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emma Parfitt
    • 1
  1. 1.EdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations