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Narrative Theory

Developing Narrative Theory: life histories and personal representation

Narrativity, Learning and Flexibility: towards the narrative future

There are presentations of a range of facts linked together with brief, sometimes experimental, accounts of life. There is seldom evidence of much internal reflection, and often the life story presented is normally short and summary. Yet an important group of describers do have a sense of personal vision to which they append a course of action. This group we call ‘multiple describers’. Sometimes, the personal vision is quite individualized, a commitment to a particular vocation, or a vision of family life. At other times, it is more communal or civic, for example, a belief in ‘gypsy identity’ or the ‘Romany way of life’.

Scripted describers have less ‘narrative intensity’ than other groups. They are unaccustomed to talking about, or it seems, thinking about their life. As a result, their life storytelling is somewhat ‘stuttering’ with a generally unrehearsed quality. The narrative is less about making sense of a life, rather more about ordering the experiences and factually describing that experience. Scripted describers have a strongly rooted sense of their identity, even when in some cases the storytellers are ‘travellers’. When, however, change comes, it is dealt with inflexibly, for life as it is lived and known has been deeply rooted and routinized.

The following diagram (Figure 4) summarizes scripted describers:

Figure 4 Scripted describers


  • Low narrativity and reflexivity.
  • Personalized elaboration – low personal vision.
  • Personal commitment and ownership to ascribed role high.
  • Self belief – ‘a sense of this is what I do’, ‘This is who I am’. An ascribed role. Repositioning – broadly stay with the original script; very low flexibility of response.
  • Narrative closure early on – closed to learning and to other imagined futures.

Learning styles

  • Learning within the ascribed role.
  • Sometimes occupational as with John ‘the farmer’; sometimes social as with May ‘the gypsy’. But the occupational and social roles direct the learning, which is primarily instrumental in kind.
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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
  • Number of editions: 1
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  • Price of book: £22.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-60362-1
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