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small stories: a narrative-discursive approach to self & identity

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Presentation on theme: "small stories: a narrative-discursive approach to self & identity"— Presentation transcript:

1 small stories: a narrative-discursive approach to self & identity
Michael Bamberg The narrative canon Narrative as representations Departure from the canon Narratives as actions/interactions Small stories as means to analyze “identities-in-interaction” <<a process orientation>> Example (“I’m Shaggy”) Wrap up (how ‘small stories’ contribute) APA 2005 Narrative Psychology --- State of the Art Thanks to Alexandra Georgakopoulou

2 Stories versus Narrating
Stories & Life as ‘resource’ <the CANON> We HAVE a life/story (to tell) (as resource) “Life is meaningful coz it’s a story” Stories as an Epistemology anti-positivist methodology in the social sciences Narrative as social interaction <narrating> stories-in-interaction (= “small stories”) as ‘navigating’ through ‘interactive trouble’ stories are situated actions <with selves in interaction> Ritualized/habitual performances - sedimented through iterative performances - hailing subjects into being (potential of resulting in ‘identity’) Where selves (identities) come to existence (EMERGE)

3 Analysis of stories versus narrating (as an activity)
Analysis of STORIES <the CANON> Themes (partic. how ‘self’ is “thematized”) Coherence (underlying ‘sense’ of a unified self) Analysis of NARRATING <as mundane activity> interactive operations <as “identity negotiations/confrontations + co-constructions”> discursive resources <the rhetorical means to CONSTRUCT stories> Discursive POSITIONS <positioning analysis>

4 Open Issues where small stories might be worthwhile
Overemphasis on stories about ‘the self’ Underplaying/-theorizing stories we tell about others Overemphasis on ‘long stories’ (interviews) cutting out/devaluating everyday, small stories cutting out re-tellings, allusions to tellings, refusals to tell Overemphasis on ‘past’ and ‘single’ events Cutting out/devaluating ongoing stories, stories about future, hypothetical events Cutting out/devaluating stories as trajectories, intertextual links between stories

5 Relationship between Canon and small stories
Complementation How does this unified sense of self come to existence (issue of development + acculturation)? how does the person in his/her particular culture and socio-historical context learn to “sort out” what is called life - and what makes life “worth living” (=what constitutes a ‘good’ life and a ‘good’ story) Contrast Differences in terms of ‘identity’, ‘development’, ‘narrative’, ‘language/discourse’, ‘entitlement +power’ …

6 Identifying + Analysing ‘small stories’ “narratives-in-interaction”
Three levels of POSITIONING Characters are positioned vis-à-vis one another Who is doing what to whom? Speaker and audience are positioning each other Lecturing, advice giving, accounting, etc Speaker positions ‘a self’ / his/her ‘identity’ Expert identity, hetero-sexual self, masculine identity Positions as interactively accomplished (in and through the use of discourse)

7 expl :“It wasn’t me, hey, I’m Shaggy” <<transcript>>
Same group of ten-year-olds + adult moderator Moderator question: “what do YOU boys find attractive in girls?” borrowing ‘a male friend’ and ‘a girl’ <oohing her legs> positioning level 1 borrowing another speaker positioning level 2 borrowing ‘Shaggy’ positioning level 3 lines…

8 ‘Shaggy’ It wasn’t me Honey came in and she caught me red-handed
CHORUS: but she caught me on the counter saw me banging on the sofa I even had her in the shower she even caught me on camera


10 Moderator question: “what do YOU boys find attractive in girls?”
borrowing ‘a male friend’ and ‘a girl’ <characters IN the story> <positioning these characters vis-à-vis each other> <<WHY?>> Positioning level 1 borrowing another ‘speaker’ <turning to audience + positioning them as ‘speakers’> <letting THEM ‘voice’ and perform the problem/trouble> <<WHY?>> Positioning level 2 borrowing ‘Shaggy’ <claiming + performing Shaggy’s identity> <<WHY?>> Positioning level 3

11 more complex issues: simple explanation:
Attraction talk is “trouble talk”: Getting caught admiring girls (by ‘whooing’ their body parts or engaging in ‘attraction-talk’) makes you vulnerable “borrowing” the Shaggy persona seems to be a way out of this <navigating vulnerability> more complex issues: There are cues orienting toward the project at work that this isn’t meant to be taken seriously <false compliance - parody -- detaching himself - mimicking> Display of equivocating positions in order to avoid ‘fixity’ and simultaneously engage in relational friendship-work …what this .. my frie:nd ..what his frie:nd…

12 ‘Shaggy’ as an example of ‘identity displays’
with different identity positions “WITHIN the same speaker” (“voices”) <interactive and relational accomplishments orientated toward “avoiding fixity”>

13 Speaking to narrative inquiry audiences
Kind of conclusion Speaking to narrative inquiry audiences Informing narrative inquiry approaches reflecting ‘texts’ + ‘contexts’ re-considering the use of stories in interviews de-emphasizing stories as ‘method’ Emergence of a “sense of self” ---by way of studying the SMALL STORIES people tell in their EVERYDAY interactions Identity Development as Process

14 Speaking to broader audiences
Re-theorizing ‘narrative’ Revisiting defintitinal criteria of ‘narrative’ rethinking the prototype (thematic coherence, structural unity, low vs high tellability, etc.) what ‘other’ kinds of (other than personal, past-event, experiential) narratives ? Increasing analytical compatability Cross-fertilization with interactional paradigms co-construction issue teller-audience-relation accomplishments telling roles, entitlement issues , empathy etc. Rethinking + reformulating the ‘voices approach’

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