Grand narratives that trace the development of society and politics over centuries or millennia fell into disrepute during the twentieth century. However, efforts to trace long-term developments without preserving earlier notions of progress have proliferated in recent years. Revived grand narratives have moved relations between communities to the centre of the explanatory enterprise, and many cast considerable light on how humans have been forced together in longer webs of interconnectedness. Contemporary grand narratives underline the need for systematic reflection on the normative principles that might regulate the coming phases of global interconnectedness. But they may also have an important role in promoting higher levels of emotional identification between human groups and higher levels of attunement to their respective needs and interests.