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Narrative Theory

Developing Narrative Theory: life histories and personal representation

Narrativity, Learning and Flexibility: towards the narrative future

In this sense, the different modalities of narrativity discerned herein pose differentiated prospects and challenges for the capacities needed for re-selfing. Interestingly, Bauman ends up with a sense that for individuality to be enabling in its capacity for selfing and re-selfing there must be a sense of overarching purpose. He says:

It is not the overwhelming pressure of an ideal which they cannot live up to that torments contemporary men and women, but the absence of ideals: the dearth of... firmly fixed and steady orientation points, of a predictable delineation for the life itinerary. (ibid.: 43)

Again, Bauman requires careful reading. He is not saying we need a fixed identity, not even a continuous sense of coherence, but something much more distant and processual – a destiny, an ideal and some orientation points for the journey. As our narratives unfold and we relearn and re-self, this provides a reasonable open framework for exploration.

In this sense, the crucial distinction in the issue of narrative capacity is that between how people employ open or closed narratives. This is often a complex conundrum to analyse and understand. We have seen how ‘scripted describers’ can often embrace a relatively ‘closed’ script early in life, which sets clear parameters for the roles and routines of their lives. We have also seen how in their lives this reduces their capacity to flexibly respond to changes in their life circumstances. Their capacity to re-self according to new circumstances is therefore circumscribed by their narrative character and constructions.

Likewise, we have seen how focussed elaborators develop, deploy and employ an open narrative which is personally elaborated at the beginning but constantly evolving, to use Miller’s phrase, ‘constantly in the process of becoming’. Hence, from the beginning a capacity to develop a personally elaborated life story, and allied to this delineated ‘courses of action’, becomes part of the person’s narrative character. This kind of narrativity constantly responds flexibly to events and builds in a regular pattern of ‘re-selfing’ into the fabric of living and narrating their lives.

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  • Date of publication: 10/09/2012
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 160
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Subject:
    Curriculum Studies, Narrative Theory
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  • Appears in:
    Developing Narrative Theory: life histories and personal representation
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £22.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-60362-1
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  • Price of e-book: £22.99
  • E-book ISBN: 978-0-203-81770-4
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