Storylines: Craftartists Narratives of Identity

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No doubt it will provide an invaluable heuristic for future research on narrative and identity. Interestingly, McLean and Syed subsume what we might call the social-categorical master narrative i.

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In our view, subsuming the social-categorical master narrative within the biographical privileges personal identity by suggesting that individual cognition about the life story precedes consideration of social cognition. We come from a position that, as the title of this commentary suggests, privileges the significance of social categorization and its impact on human development. Regardless, we suspect that the basic typology for master narratives McLean and Syed propose will prove remarkably generative for the field, even as it may be adapted or elaborated by future researchers.

The general concept of the master narrative thus overlaps between McLean and Syed's framework and our own, but they have offered an invaluable elaboration and expansion in their articulation of a set of principles that define master narratives and a typology for classifying different kinds of master narratives. The assumptions and basic premises between the two frameworks, we suggest, are also overlapping. In other words, the theory at the root of their framework is consistent with the premises of master narrative engagement.

We propose that the concept of master narratives provides a framework for understanding the nature of this intersection between self and society … As individuals construct a personal narrative, they negotiate with and internalize these master narratives - they are the material they have to work with to understand how to live a good life.

In these core claims about their framework, we find strong echoes of our theory of master narrative engagement, the central tenet of which is that human development is characterized by a dynamic process through which individuals and societies negotiate the meaning of lives, events, and groups through an engagement with narratives [e.

We described identity as. In this way, the content of identity is inherently ideological, assuming a narrative structure and realized in and through social experience. Here we were inspired by Erikson [, ] to think about master narratives as conveying an ideology - a system of beliefs about the world that says something about one's social and political location [see also McAdams, ].

Hence whether a young Jewish Israeli appropriates the discourse of united the dominant perspective versus divided the marginalized perspective Jerusalem has significant implications for the social location of the person. Our point here is that identity development is a deeply social and political process and product of human development, and our framework sought precisely to inject the field of narrative and identity with a perspective that highlighted the social and political.

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A core part of our theory of identity, and a point of divergence especially from existing perspectives in psychological and developmental science at the time, was the notion that individuals are fundamentally constrained in the course of narrative identity development. That all of our empirical work occurred with groups at the margins - Palestinians living under military occupation, Israelis living in the context of historical persecution and existential insecurity, sexual and gender identity minorities living in the contexts of heterosexism and cisgenderism, unhoused individuals living in the context of stigma and economic subordination - led us to question the implicit emphasis on personal agency in most theoretical statements on narrative.

The main distinction between McAdams's overall theoretical framework and the one advanced in this article is primarily connected to the emphasis on culture and the role of agency in identity development. Likely because his work is based in the American cultural context, McAdams's approach tends to ascribe significant agency to individuals as they construct their life stories. In the perspective advanced here, I want to suggest that the relationship between a master narrative and a personal narrative is highly contingent on the cultural context of development.

As a consequence, the agency that individuals possess to construct life stories varies considerably [e.

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Our framework, then, diverged from dominant perspectives on narrative and identity in its relative emphasis on the constraints individuals face in the identity development process, chiefly as a result of their social identities, always positioned in some relation to a power structure in society. Here there is a strong balance between agency and structure. On the other hand, inner speech becomes manifest as individuals encounter the symbolic meaning system of language and learn through social practice [Vygotsky, ].

The key theoretical point here is that the existence of social speech precedes the development of inner speech and hence the internalization process is always first constrained by the content and structure of master narratives. In concluding one of our first empirical papers on Israeli and Palestinian youth, the relative emphasis on structural constraint over agency is clearly articulated:.

Although this study reveals the possibilities of cultural transformations through the ideologies of a new generation, it also reveals the limits of agency in human development. The context of conflict creates unique challenges for adolescent identity development, and the malleability of identity polarization may indeed be limited by a social structure characterized by the perception of existential threat and the need for ingroup solidarity.

Thus while we dispute McLean and Syed's claim that we over emphasize agency, we wholeheartedly agree with their position that agency has been historically overrepresented in research on narrative identity development and that we must do a better job of attending to the constraints individuals face as they attempt to resist master narratives, especially in situations of social injustice. Each of the participants' stories in that study voiced immense frustration with the lack of power that they held at home and in schools, programs, and shelters, where they were frequently perceived as delinquent or incompetent.

One participant, Alejandro, articulated a painful awareness of the inequality and structural barriers that constrained his life chances:. I thought I was just gonna finish high school and go to college. I thought all these thing were gonna be open for me. What happened to this, this dream that you see on TV? You don't get that … You gotta dig for the things you want. You gotta scrape for the things you want. Indeed, the individuals interviewed struggled with being perceived as unruly, unmotivated, criminal, and pathological.

Because this master narrative is so powerful, we found it especially striking that each of these youth's stories demonstrated resistance to internalizing a sense of personal fault or failure, instead calling attention to structural disadvantage by highlighting the discrimination, violence, neglect, and alienation they faced. Agency emerged as a salient theme in these cases precisely because it had been denied so constantly throughout their lives.

We did emphasize agency when it occurred in the personal narratives of these youth because it pointed us toward the process of resistance to the hegemonic character of master narrative engagement which underlies our broader theory [e.


These findings illustrate the value in taking an interpretive approach to the study of lived experience that considers not just personal meaning making but also the social and political location from which meaning is made. Individuals without housing are all too often treated as passive objects rather than active partners in shaping the institutions and policies that affect their lives. Thus, we feel that it is important to highlight and take seriously the oppressive constraints posed by master narratives while simultaneously considering the plural and often contested ways in which individuals make sense of those narratives in constructing their lives.

In sum, the master narrative concept and the underlying theory of identity are virtually identical between McLean and Syed's framework and our theory of master narrative engagement. In contrast to McLean and Syed's claims, the frameworks also converge in their relative emphasis on social structure to constrain personal agency in the identity development process and to shape the way in which individuals negotiate and internalize master narratives. The development of Ayelet's personal narrative over time illustrates the limiting properties of master narratives.

McLean and Syed propose a useful and novel elaboration of the master narrative concept by articulating principles and developing a typology with which we concur, with the exception of their choice to subsume social-categorical master narratives within the biographical. The key divergence between the frameworks is less theoretical and more epistemological.

Our theory of master narrative engagement is anchored in an interpretive epistemology that emphasizes qualitative methods, while their framework strives to inspire a more quantitative approach to the empirical study of master narratives in a post-positivist epistemology. We view this aspect of divergence as entirely complementary, and we use the remainder of this commentary to discuss these distinct epistemological stances toward master narratives.

McLean and Syed propose their master narrative framework at a time of incredible flourishing of narrative theory and methods in psychological and developmental science, as well as the decided recognition of qualitative methods as a legitimate form of psychological inquiry [e. This shift was intended at least in part to challenge hegemonic forms of inquiry in psychology, anchored in the positivist and post-positivist impulse to produce knowledge more concerned with prediction and control than description and understanding of human lives [e.

What united these key works was at least in part a revitalization of an interpretive epistemology that had been delegitimized and marginalized in psychological science for nearly all of the twentieth century [see Tappan, ].


Sounding out the silences: Narratives and absences in African higher education. Occasional Paper No. Goodson, I.

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Developing narrative theory: Life histories and personal representation. London: Routledge Falmer. Graven, M. Changing the story: Teacher education through re-authoring their narratives. In The Routledge international handbook of teacher and school development. Abingdon: Routledge. Harber, C. Toxic schooling: How schools became worse. Nottingham: Educational Heretics Press. Josselson, R. Narrative research and the challenge of accumulating knowledge. Narrative Inquiry 16 1 : 3— Mischler, E. Odora Hoppers, C. Indigenous knowledge and the integration of knowledge systems.

Cape Town: New Africa Book.

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Rostow, W. The stages of economic growth: A non-communist manifesto.

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Storylines: Craftartists' Narratives of Identity [Elliot G. Mishler] on * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. What do we mean when we refer to our. Editorial Reviews. Review. Storylines is as much a narrative of Elliot Mishler's love affair with the crafts and his own craft as a researcher in narratives of identity .

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ostler, A.

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Keywords: Culture Identity Interpretive Master narrative. The reproduction or repudiation of master narratives in the course of development was conceived as the empirical window into the trajectory of an individual, a group, a society [e. However, during this conversation she did imply a sort of change in attitude. Jamie marked it as to-read Aug 11, I have

International Journal of Educational Development — Rist, G. European Journal of Development Alternatives 2 1 : 10— Serpell, R. The significance of schooling: Life journeys in an African society. Mishler was born in Astoria , New York in At the same time he began to publish a series of important works on aspects of qualitative research. His classic work on Research Interviewing was published in His home was the location for regular discussion of narrative and other concepts in psychology as well as forms of social activism.

He had substantial influence on the work of many scholars including Bertram Cohler , Brinton Lykes. Throughout his life he was involved in various forms of social activism. He took his sons to their first demonstrations against the war in Vietnam in , and he continued to fight against racism, militarism, and injustice throughout his life, including holding family reunions at marches against the War in Iraq.