This essay, and the special issue it introduces, seeks to explore leadership in a post-truth age, focusing in particular on the types of narratives and counter-narratives that characterize it and at times dominate it. We first examine the factors that are often held responsible for the rise of post-truth in politics, including the rise of relativist and postmodernist ideas, dishonest leaders and bullshit artists, the digital revolution and social media, the 2008 economic crisis and collapse of public trust. We develop the idea that different historical periods are characterized by specific narrative ecologies, which, by analogy to natural ecologies, can be viewed as spaces where different types of narrative and counter-narrative emerge, interact, compete, adapt, develop and die. We single out some of the dominant narrative types that characterize post-truth narrative ecologies and highlight the ability of language to ‘do things with words’ that support both the production of ‘fake news’ and a type of narcissistic leadership that thrive in these narrative ecologies. We then examine more widely leadership in post-truth politics focusing on the resurgence of populist and demagogical types along with the narratives that have made these types highly effective in our times. These include nostalgic narratives idealizing a fictional past and conspiracy theories aimed at arousing fears about a dangerous future.
- conspiracy theories
- narrative ecologies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Strategy and Management