When it comes to ‘narratives’, at least in the German-speaking world, the term is considered an empty phrase by some while others don’t think twice when using the term to explain social phenomena. And while some talk about opposing ideas being “mere narratives”, others claim that we “need new narratives”. In the basic income discourse, in particular, the concept of narrative plays an important role. Is UBI for example a “mere narrative” or is there a need for new narratives, such as a counter-narrative to the idea of performance in order to give basic income more social acceptance?

Begrüßung durch Prof. Andreas Urs Sommer

About the event

The FRIBIS team “Participation and UBI – ‘Narratives’ of the Future” (PartUBI) organised a workshop from 20 to 22 September, 2023 to shed light on the topic. The event, in German, was organised by Leon Hartmann, Sebastian Kaufmann and Robert Krause and was entitled “Universal Basic Income as an economic narrative?’’ (original title: “Das bedingungslose Grundeinkommen als ökonomisches Narrativ?”). Among the speakers were both young researchers and well-known scholars from a number of disciplines (click here to find the programme).

The most obvious differences between the speakers were in their methodological premises and use of the word ‘narrative’. Some, for example, adopted methodological meta-perspectives to address the connotations and denotations of the term ‘narrative’ and its use in particular discourses. Others were less interested in analysing discursive practices than in the social phenomena around basic income, which they were trying to grasp analytically using the concept of narrative. Despite these differences, the fact that both sides entered into dialogue with each other in the course of the conference proved to be extremely fruitful.
Conclusion and further proceedings of PartUBI

In the course of the workshop it became clear how seminal the topic of narratives is in its connection with basic income and how decisively the concept shapes current social debates. The members of PartUBI were therefore encouraged in their aim to further investigate the use of the concept and the function of ‘narratives’ in the context of culture, science and politics.

Next up is an anthology in the FRIBIS series in which the final papers from the workshop participants will be published.

Prof. Dr. Michael Roos