Published May 27, 2022 | Version v1
Poster Open


  • 1. Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University


Stories have always structured our experience stored as scenarios and retrieved from our memory to cope with challenges we face. The awareness of the human ability to adjust new information to familiar narratives is intensely used by media in an extremely subtle way. Instantly recognizing the “once upon a time” cliché, we get transported into other worlds living through a hero’s life path and hoping for the best. With digital environments, messages are delivered far quicker than ever before, whereas social behaviours are traditionally driven by collective unconscious principle.

This research focuses on storytelling in the context of human trafficking. Exposed to pandemic, military threats, intolerance, migration, etc., no country is immune to modern day slavery. The objective is to establish the mechanism for mitigating human trafficking risks through stories. The stages include identifying the structure of human trafficking media scenarios, narrative perspectives, and messages in terms of their attitudinal perceptions of victims. The study is augmented with an empirical sleuth for verifying whether the readers believe in the positive outcome of the human trafficking situation.

The objective is achieved due to narrative perspective to identify plot parameters and establish human trafficking scenario, and the methods of empirical studies. The effect of the stories is evaluated based on the results of the survey conducted among 38 Ukrainian humanity students representing the youth as a vulnerable category. The Paired Samples Test is used to measure the differences in perceptions of human trafficking before and after being exposed to human trafficking media narratives.

The material for narrative analysis embraces 35 media stories highlighted by anti-trafficking campaigns. Four texts selected by random choice were used a case studies in the questionnaire. The hypothesis is that human trafficking stories transmit the supportive and encouraging messages to the audiences that 1) survival is possible; 2) it is worth of struggling if anyone gets into slavery conditions; 3) social reintegration is possible. These variables are measured statistically.

The results of narrative analysis shed light on the features of human trafficking stories: 1) the stories are based on simple narrative monomyth structure and reiterated cyclic construal representing departure, initiation, multiple actions victims are exposed to, and return; 2) the stories are predominantly told from the 1st person, i.e. from a victim’s point of view, so the narrative perspective is partially limited but not fixed; sometimes journalists/content writers act as narrators to direct readers’ perceptions; 3) the scenario is verbalised with connotative and figurative language for dramatic effect, as well as active voice verbs for traffickers’ actions and passive voice for dependent state of victims; 4) most of the survival stories end with a focus on the social value of the job performed by former victims, so the stories are charged with the potential to shape positive attitudes to former victims.

The empirical study findings speak for that “social reintegration is possible” is the only statistically valid variable (p<0.29 for Pair 5 and p<0.015 for Pair 6 by nominal and ordinal scales, respectively). The collected data on such variables as “survival is possible” and “it is worth of struggling if anyone gets into slavery conditions” prove insignificant. The respondents also say they are mostly impressed with Fragment 1 and Fragment 3 and evaluate media stories as emotional, depressive, sad, and realistic. The prospective studies will focus on the differences in perceptions of video vs textual formats of human trafficking storytelling in digital discourse and on the social value of the job performed by former victims.


Elina Paliichuk Is there a happy end in human traffickign media stor Poster.pdf