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Structure and Dynamics

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Stories, Scripts, Roles, and Networks


In Identity and Control, Harrison White (1992) stresses the importance of stories as a medium for and outcome of efforts at control. Stories as social ties retell the events that have occurred between people or identities and they offer scripts for social action. The notion of stories as scripts is in line with an early result in the study of literature, where Vladímir Propp (Morphology of the Folktale, 1928) showed that a large corpus of Russian folktales are characterized by a script with a limited number of functions or roles that appear in a fixed order. It will be demonstrated that these roles can be identified by a signed dyadic tie with a particular chronological order and that the scripts culminate in a balanced situation. Furthermore, it will be shown that the temporally ordered ties occur in a social network and that the associated fairytale meanings seem to apply here as well. Finally, a nesting rule is proposed that captures the scripting of roles within fairytales. This rule, however, does not seem to exert a profound influence on the dynamics of the social network of literary authors and critics studied.

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