Vertigo Variations

2024 Narrative Predictions

As we leave the chaos of the previous year behind, it’s safe to say that the vibes remain… uncertain. Across the narrative landscape, we hear the clattering of broken hearts as another mainstay couple calls it quits or someone else hops on the Ozempic bandwagon. We’re juggling elder care, child care, family dinner, drag shows, rent increases and student loans. The hum around elections grows louder while the fog of endless war grows thicker. 

In 2023, people sought authenticity and rarefied experiences to make up for years mired in a pandemic (some of us are still paying off those Renaissance tickets, but it was worth it!). This year, the multiverse of realities unfolding before us won’t make it easy to interpret the world through a set of simple binaries: ‘me’ or ‘we', war or peace, abundance, scarcity, or just having enough. A million different conversations have been pulling our attention this way and that, in ways that feel equal parts familiar and new.

If the Barbenheimer phenomenon taught us anything, it’s that there’s a sense of hope, joy, and the truly unexpected operating alongside the dread and disorientation of what the future may bring. Despite (or in spite) of overlapping crises there remains a collective yearning, an insistence even, for the good life. In the face of the climate crisis, wage stagnation and political destabilization, the hope to live freely and abundantly persists. We see this not only in the rise of global solidarity movements against war and genocide, but also within our shared dreams of prosperity.

As we navigate varying realities, one thing remains constant. Our communities and our movements play a pivotal role in shaping the narrative arena. Together, we confront real risks while seizing the opportunities that lay before us. Our predictions and insights aim to serve as a guiding light, empowering you to build narrative power in pursuit of freedom, liberation and justice as we collectively prepare for the year ahead.

Sign up here if you want to follow along this year for more narrative research and updates on our predictions, upcoming trainings and other offerings to social movement leaders, organizations and networks.

ReFrame’s predictions are rooted in both research and analysis and our experiences as organizers, policy wonks, narrative strategists and practitioners. The data visualizations and charts we use in this year's report represent the volume of conversations over time and are a critical tool in our overall narrative analysis. You can read more about how to interact with these visuals and their data sources on our methodology page. Please let us know if you have questions, feedback, or thoughts on this report. 

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war games

Prediction one

In 2023, America was having an identity crisis. In 2024, this crisis will be shaped by mounting geopolitical strife as the United States continues to clout-chase global dominance. Some Global South countries will continue to reject American colonialism and imperialism, while in the West a growing number of elected leaders will double down on fascist, ethnonationalist and anti-communist rhetoric. Elected officials across the political spectrum in the U.S. and abroad will aim to position their governing agenda as the safest path to security by exploiting internal and external conflicts. We will watch elected officials leverage the country’s identity as a monied war machine to enforce Western supremacy and law and order narratives. These officials will also reinforce policing and punishment as a primary role of government at home and abroad under the guise of maintaining homeland security and allied relationships. In sum, conversations will be reckoning with America’s global identity as the Biden administration continues to sign blank checks and co-sign unspeakable crimes against humanity in Pakistan, Sudan, Haiti and Palestine.


  • West is the best
  • The US is in decline 
  • The US is fighting for power on the global stage
  • Communism and Marxism are threats to democracy
  • Capitalism and imperialism are threats to democracy
  • Law and order
  • Safety and security 
  • Everyone has a right to self-determination 
  • Independence is freedom

story trends


Prediction two

2024 will usher narratives about green capitalism into a climate conversation that, for 30 years, has been dominated and defined by a bad faith narrative battle about whether or not climate change is real. Extreme weather events — tornadoes in Australia, record-breaking heat across India, wildfire smoke from Canada to the U.S. South — have shifted our collective reality and the stories and narratives traversing the ecosystem. Climate conversations are stark. Some argue that we are facing the ramifications of decades of ignored warnings. Others take it upon themselves to adopt individualized climate solutions, leaning into consumerism and the endless pursuit of the latest “green” technology. Extreme weather will continue to affect poor, houseless and other marginalized communities. These impacts will paint a bleak unbalanced picture when compared to those with access to wealth, resources, security and power.

If you thought mis-and disinformation about climate change might decrease, think again. Expect a healthy dose of disinfo in consumer conversations that spill over into the culture wars (remember the gas stove, people?) and wherever climate conversations intersect with U.S. elections, migration and the cost of living. The cocktail of disinformation, fear of the future and ongoing inequality will increase scarcity narratives deeply embedded across society. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Chatter about climate solutions, often experimental and innovative, is louder than in the past as the stark reality of climate change and its material impacts become clearer across the globe.


  • We are on the edge of climate catastrophe
  • The world as we know it is ending
  • Survival of the fittest
  • Climate change is a hoax
  • Corporations are responsible for climate change
  • We have the technology and knowledge to stop climate change 
  • Addressing the climate crisis is bad for the economy 
  • Addressing the climate crisis is good for the economy

story trends

is a four letter word

Prediction three

Conversations about jobs and the economy in 2024 will be shaped by a surge in stories about worker power. We’ll also see stories about work-life balance and pandemic-inspired cultural shifts. Together, these stories will underscore the ways most people’s wages are losing the race against high living costs while corporate greed creates record-breaking profits for select elites. There will also be an increase in conversation about the impact of migrant workers on job competition and labor organizing. These will be the usual stories of skilled versus unskilled work and deserving versus undeserving people.

Organized labor and unions rose to become central characters in conversations around workers and the economy in 2022 and 2023. In 2024, they will likely remain central characters in a complex narrative landscape. There will be stories of major wins for workers, including large scale organizing and contract wins that improve conditions and hold bosses accountable. We can expect competing stories about self-styled “hustlers,” folks in the gig economy grind, and workers with multiple low-wage jobs who jeopardize their livelihoods by organizing for change. We will also see an increase in stories about the impacts of global economic precarity on workers of color who have always faced economic uncertainty and insecurity. These stories crack open narrative contests between worker solidarity, extractive capitalism and business-as-usual rugged individualism. Stories about the promise and dangers AI presents to work and workers will continue to increase in volume. As implied in the SAG-AFTRA strike, AI stories will be driven by both fear of job loss and class solidarity as well as the hope that technology will somehow bring us more ease and leisure.


Line graph measuring conversations between #UnionsForAll, #JoinAUnion, #RaisetheWage and #WorkLifeBalance from August 1 to December 15, 2023
Volume Comparison of #UnionsForAll and #JoinAUnion (99.7k), #Fightfor15 and #RaisetheWage (29k), #WorkLifeBalance (752.4k) | August 1 - December 15, 2023
Powered by Zignal Labs


  • Corporations are entitled to the wealth they produce
  • Unions are bad for the economy
  • Labor organizing can cost you your job
  • Workers are the engine of the economy
  • We can meet our needs through collective action
  • Work to live, not live to work
  • Technological progress is inevitable
  • Human beings cannot be replaced by technology

story trends

Category is....Bawdy!

Prediction four

Some people say the body is a wonderland, but in 2024, the body will be a battleground. Conversations about the body have been in the mix for a while now, and this year, we predict they’ll be taking center stage in a new way. Efforts to ban the right to abortion will escalate as will referendums aimed at enshrining that right. Increasing violence against queer and trans people and a growing threat to broader gay rights are also operating in the ecosystem of body narratives. These conversations are getting louder as we inch into election season. We’ll also see an increase in and overlap with conversations the role gender and sexuality play in defining how people are able to move through the world.

Conversations about “the self” will traverse the often (but not always!) opposing camps of community care versus self-care and abundance versus scarcity. Race, class, gender and geographical differences will all shape how stories of the self are told, heard and used. Stories will intersect with ongoing fights for reproductive justice, LGBTQIA+ rights and battles over how to define masculinity and femininity, shaped by the specter of Andrew Tate and his manosphere minions. We’ll also see new permutations of wellness trends influence leisure and travel. Parents will be main characters in conversations about drug use, recreational or otherwise. Different creators and audiences across the expanding ocean of platforms will all bring their own flavor of this conversation to the table. As always, online discourse by and for Black folks will dominate and shape conversations about gender and the body across social media, particularly about relationships, self-image and defining pop culture moments.


  • People, not the government, should be able to make decisions about their bodies
  • Government should maintain the moral/social order for the body
  • Men and women are biologically distinct
  • Gender is expansive
  • Patriarchy hurts us all
  • Everyone deserves a good life
  • Everyone deserves a dignified death

story trends

I Got 99 Bitcoins,
but a Dollar Ain’t One

Prediction five

Depending on where you’re sitting when you check your bank account or pay your bills, you’re either feeling pretty lucky you can make ends meet or telling yourself “this is fine” as you try to stretch a dollar in six different directions. Either way, you’re acutely aware that people are struggling to meet their needs. Stories about the economy have shifted in the past 18 months from panic over inflation and the supply chain crisis to economic stability. In 2024, conversations about the economy will take us on a roller coaster ride rife with conflicting and contradictory stories. The federal government, political centrists and economists will talk of a general post-pandemic stabilization while celebrating job growth, inflation reduction and decreased fuel costs. Contrast that with stories about working class families struggling with the actual cost of things.

Major story trends will focus on how the high cost of essentials like housing, baby formula and childcare are squeezing folks at every income level – unless you’re in the 1%. The right wing narrative ecosystem (media, influencers and politicians alike) will jump on this trend to recycle their stories about gas prices and milk, deploying targeted messaging that aligns them with the working class. Meanwhile, corporations are flexing their narrative muscle. Expect them to amplify stories about revenue loss fueled by union organizing and regulation, while arguing for monopolies on the grounds of efficiency and care for the consumer. This strategy will support big plays to consolidate corporate power across sectors like energy, media and tech.

The cacophony of stories about the economy gestures toward the extreme inequality of our modern Gilded Age without naming it directly. If history and our research tell us anything, brace yourself for more conversations about the perils of late-stage capitalism. These conversations will be full of valid critiques of the status quo and show the distance between out-of-touch economic elites and regular people. While more and more people in the dominant conversation about the economy are affirming that capitalism is harmful, it’s rare to see the critique paired with ideas about what a different kind of economy could look like, much less tangible alternatives. This noisy conversation provides fertile ground to redefine what American economic prosperity is, and who it is for in 2024 and beyond.


This chart compares jobs, inflation, housing, retirement, the cost of living crisis, the Inflation Reduction Act and student loans in broader conversations about the economy. Conversations about jobs and inflation are the loudest, spiking around federal policy and mentions of the President. Topic volumes vary, but the trend lines show that they all follow a similar trajectory, suggesting that stories about one topic trigger stories about other topics.

Volume Comparison in Conversations about the U.S. Economy | Jobs, Inflation, Housing, Retirement, Cost of Living Crisis, Inflation Reduction Act, Student Loans August 1 - December 15, 2023 | Powered by Zignal Labs


  • Capitalism is dying 
  • Capitalism is the best system we’ve got 
  • Green capitalism is good capitalism
  • The government is responsible for providing basic needs 
  • Everyone is responsible for meeting their own needs
  • Corporations are the engine of the economy 
  • Corporations are entitled to the wealth they produce
  • Capitalism and democracy go hand in hand 
  • Tax the rich

story trends

Fast Times
at the Ballot Box

Prediction six

Like it or not, the 2024 presidential elections will take up most of the oxygen in the room and influence almost every conversation. The media will bring a Hunger Games energy to its misguided “horse race instead of the stakes” election coverage. Expect more stories about an aging political leadership (the gerontocracy!) coupled with voter disillusion and fatigue. We’ll see more stories walk a tightrope held taut by polarization: school choice versus the need to fund public institutions, retractive versus expansive democracy in the U.S. (democracy for me, not for thee), and American decline versus prosperity. 

The 2024 elections may hold other stories: a referendum against the Biden administration, a portrayal of the two-party system as two sides of the same unhelpful coin, a rise of third-party candidates or a landslide victory for the GOP. AI-generated mis-and disinformation, along with existing conspiracy theories, will move faster than we can track and inoculate. We can’t predict winners or losers, but we can tell you it will be a rough ride to Election Day. The question is: will people get desensitized and further disillusioned by the spectacle or stay engaged and fight for democracy?


  • The government is corrupt 
  • The country is polarized
  • The government should reflect the people 
  • There is no such thing as objectivity 
  • Voting is ineffective
  • Democracy is worth saving 
  • You can’t trust the government or the press
  • Law & order
  • Public schools are unsafe
  • Funding schools and teachers ensures all students have the resources they need to thrive

story trends


Every year, we offer a set of openings and risks with our narrative predictions. Many of the insights in this section are specific to narratives and story trends we unpack in the annual predictions, but we also include patterns we see hold across time. While influential stories, messages and messengers may change from year to year, many dominant and competing narratives are enduring. Thus, our work of narrative change and power building must also be enduring. Openings and risks do not contain specific message guidance. Instead, they contain broad narrative guideposts that can inform content, audience and platform development as you assess your narrative strategy. Always remember, guideposts should be tailored to your base, audience and goals. Good luck out there!

Narrative openings

Narrative risks

Discussion Guide

Our team crafts annual predictions to support long-term strategic planning, organizing and communications work. ReFrame’s 2024 Narrative Predictions does not offer specific message guidance. Instead, it provides broad narrative guideposts that can inform your content, audience, and platform development as you implement your narrative strategy. This year, we’ve crafted a set of questions to help you and your team assess how the predictions may inform your narrative strategy for 2024.


At ReFrame, we conduct narrative research on established, emerging, dominant and trending narratives that are circulating widely as well as inside specific networks. We also track narrative voids, places where there is an absence of coherent stories that add up to a clear narrative. Our research tracks volume and velocity trends, conversational patterns, stories, content and messages, and network influencers across time, platforms and channels. We meticulously dissect content (news articles, social media content, websites, broadcast news and entertainment, podcasts, online forums, and more) to identify embedded messages, story and character archetypes, and their underlying ideas, values and beliefs. ReFrame conducts narrative research in partnership with other leaders and organizations, refining our research and content analysis through bidirectional learning loops.

For this report, we used a combination of Zignal Labs data, analysis of surveys distributed to 2023 ReFrame Academy participants, and detailed on and offline analysis of keywords and conversations. We examined conversation trends, volume and velocity, with a focus on English and Spanish-language and United States-based content distributed over a two-year period. Our general research window was from January to December 2023, though at times, we looked back further to understand how stories and narratives shifted over a longer period of time.


There are several kinds of charts in this report that represent the volume of conversations over time. The data visualized is static and does not update in real time. These charts are time-bound snapshots of data compiled from single keywords, curated keyword sets and/or issue filters. This data supports interpreting, comparing and forecasting how conversations, and the narratives that undergird them, move over time.

Embedded charts with a navy blue background are interactive. You can turn the issues on and off to understand the volume trajectory of a single conversation or compare them to one another. These charts also pull from a broad set of data sources across the digital landscape, including X (formerly known as Twitter), Reddit, broadcast and news media, public Facebook pages and more. 

Charts with white and navy blue backgrounds are not interactive and represent data pulled from X, news media, broadcast, blogs, Reddit, Q&A, reviews, and forums. They help us see and understand emergent conversations. Some terms to know:

  • Volume refers to the number of mentions of a given issue over time. Volume analysis provides insight into which conversations have the greatest volume, when volume is consistent, or when and how it varies. We compare volume across conversations to better understand their salience and how they interact with each other. 
  • Spikes refer to the peaks on a given chart where volume increases rapidly. Spikes are typically influenced by a dominant story or flashpoint moment that we can identify. 
  • Keyword refers to a single word, phrase, or hashtag that can be used to search and find content related to a given story or conversation. 
  • Keyword sets are a group of keywords compiled to search, find and aggregate content related to a given conversation. Keyword sets can be simple (ex: Defund the police, #DefundThePolice) or complex (ex: including hundreds of people, places, words, and hashtags related to policing, abolition, and reform). We typically use simple keyword sets to understand emerging issues or specific conversations; we use complex keyword sets to listen to conversations broadly and at scale
  • Issue Filter refers to a set of keywords designed to capture a particular conversation or story trend (ex: Inflation) that can be applied to a broader conversation.
  • Quiet refers to conversations and/or stories operating at a lower volume relative to other conversations in the narrative ecosystem
  • Loud refers to conversations and/or stories operating at a higher volume relative to other conversations in the narrative ecosystem.

ReFrame uses Zignal Labs, alongside other big listening tools and methods to support our narrative research.
The charts in this report represent data parameters built by ReFrame’s narrative research team within this tool.


Disinformation is information that is deliberately false or misleading, often spread for political gain; profit; or to discredit an individual, group, movement, political party or foreign government.

Influencers are individuals in the narrative ecosystem that shape conversations on and offline. Some may have public name recognition or large follower counts. They are individuals who are seen as trustworthy representatives of their community, with a robust offline network to match their online presence.

Misinformation is information that is false or unintentionally inaccurate, spread unknowingly.

Mood refers to the emotional response an author wishes to evoke in their audience. Emotional responses allow audiences to connect with a story, making it meaningful and memorable.

A narrative is a collection or system of related stories that are articulated and refined over time to represent a central idea or belief. (Narrative Initiative)

Networks are a way of describing and visualizing social relationships. They describe how different people are connected, how strong their ties are and how different networks are connected to each other. Networks are not just how people are connected online — they include offline relationships and connections that bridge people together in real life.

Tone refers to an author’s attitude toward a story, its subject matter or its audience. An author's tone may reflect their personal attitude or opinion about a story.

Values are commonly held beliefs. They are not always partisan. Values can inform ideology and narrative, and vice versa.


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About This is Signals

Signals is a visionary project fueled by wit, imagination, fortitude, and caffeine. We ingest, digest, and dissect social, cultural, and political conversations of the moment and across time and space. We use the hard skills of grassroots organizing and strategic communications, the thinking of designers and futurists, the technology of big listening, and the wisdom of our ancestors.

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openings + risksdiscussion guide   Methodology        contributors