Narrative in the Economic Sphere: The International Monetary Fund and the Scripting of a Global Economy


Published: 18Aug2021

Author: Lindsay Holmgren

Publication: NARRATIVE, Vol. 29, No. 2 (May 2021)


This essay analyzes the narratological features of language produced by and about the International Monetary Fund in order to illustrate its role in establishing and covertly disseminating the ideological foundations of a finance-centric, global economic paradigm. This work, therefore, can be situated within the larger context of narratological inquiries, such as those of feminist, critical race, and postcolonial investigations, which unveil and call into question the dominant paradigms that inform environmental, social, political, and economic systems. Reviewing the IMF narrative alongside that of one of its borrowers, Tanzania, the essay engages the twin applications of empirical research and rhetorical narrative theory as it has developed from classical through postclassical narratology; further, it underscores and challenges the linguistic and systemic means by which the IMF has crafted the policies that borrow-ing nations must adopt in order to receive aid (Structural Adjustment Policies). In light of the narratives it traces and the conditions it exposes, “Narrative in the Eco-nomic Sphere” makes a case for the value of enhanced narrative competence among economists, and especially those in International Financial Institutions that have increasingly governed the global economy since the close of the Second World War.

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