I stared blankly at the wall, exhausted from the Jaipur heat and the endless online classes. Right in the middle of the pandemic, I tried to look for something interesting, something that would save me from this torment of endless boredom. It was junior year, and I was clueless about my actual interests and my true passion. I was probably aware of the fact that I did enjoy studying Literature and Economics at school but that was it. And then it hit me! What if I were to combine these two interests? “Economics and Literature.” I typed in. Several links popped up. I spent the next few hours in the summer heat researching and reading about it.
That is when I came across Narrative Economics, a concept developed by Robert J. Shiller. The simple idea that the way we exchange stories, and the way that we let this contagious intangible element circulate amongst ourselves can cause and affect major economic events like the Great Depression itself spoke volume to me. The more I read, the more I understood the importance of stories and of human relationships.
During an Economics class, our teacher had instructed us to present about economists and their theories from different centuries, and I was asked to present on the 21st century. I took this opportunity to speak about my new discovery - Narrative Economics - and as I presented, I realized the immense admiration I had developed for this whole new concept within a short span of time. I read more about it every day using Google Scholar. I even read articles that were remotely related to the idea and tried to develop the concept further myself.
I realized how interesting humans actually were. We are all unpredictable biased creatures, not diabolically, but rather in a discreet, naïve way. We don’t realize how narratives hold such immense power in our lives, so much so that they cause us to act certain ways without thinking twice. Reading people, and understanding how they act, and why they act the way they do has always enraptured me, and I think this interest stems from the fact that I like to write. I have written numerous articles since a very young age, and have written short stories, historical fictions, and simple memoirs. As a writer, I take utmost interest in human nature, and the discovery of Narrative Economics has helped me develop this interest into something substantial, something more than just a mere fantasy. I also realized the power my stories hold. The experiences I describe, the moments to the climax I develop or the small details I include, all make up a narrative, that hold the power of changing people’s behaviour, and even their lookout on their life.
Inspired by this, I decided to write a research paper on the topic Applying Marxism on Dickens’ Expectations. Massive research led me to the discovery that Charles Dickens’ famous narratives helped spread the ideas related to class consciousness, the cruelties of the bourgeoise, and the importance of the proletariat in the 19th century. In my research paper, I included my analysis on how the Communist Manifesto and Great Expectations were similar, and how both books completely changed the course of history through the power of Narrative Economics.
I find it amusing to think of how a random idea, on a casual afternoon, led me to finding something so important. My encounter with it has been the most thrilling one. It is something I solely came across due to my interest, and I wish to work upon on this concept in the future.