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Narrative Theory

Developing Narrative Theory: life histories and personal representation

Narrativity, Learning and Flexibility: towards the narrative future

The group in Chapter 9 are also elaborators, but we can discern a more tenuous link to the development of ‘courses of action’; these are above all ‘armchair elaborators’. By this, we mean that high narrative activity seldom translates into agentic behaviour – into the delineation of clear courses of action – which then command commitment. The degree of narrative intensity is sometimes enormous, even at times frightening. But armchair elaborators often give the impression of ‘spinning their wheels’ – of going round and round in circles. In some narratives, the person returns again and again to an earlier problem – a flawed relationship with a parent, a cataclysmic divorce – which has left the person confused and seemingly rudderless. The response is often a persistent form of narrative reinterpretation and an attempt to try out new narrative identities. But this ongoing attempt to re-self seems to encounter a ‘blockage’ when the attempt is made to define an associated course of action. In this sense, we call this group armchair elaborators, people with great narrative intensity and capacity but with a low capacity for defining the courses of action that would allow new narrative identity to flourish and become embedded. There is a willingness – even a desperation – to re-self, but minimized capacity to implement new narrative identity. There is, then, an open exploration of life narratives and a narrative playing with a wide range of alternative stories. But there is a closure, a blockage that acts against turning these narratives into action, into a systematic delineation of associated courses of action or the development of alternative identity projects.

The groups in chapters 7 and 10 are those who primarily recount their life stories descriptively (see Figure 3). 

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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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    Developing Narrative Theory: life histories and personal representation
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  • Price of book: £22.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-60362-1
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