Narrative as construction and discursive resource

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Discursive psychologists (Edley, 2001; Potter & Wetherell, 1987; Wetherell, 1998) have analysed identity work in talk, including the ways in which understandings which prevail in a wider social context are taken up or resisted as speakers position themselves and are positioned by others. In these terms, a narrative is generally understood in two ways. The first is as an established understanding of sequence or consequence, such as a potential life trajectory, which becomes a discursive resource for speakers to draw on (cf. Bruner’s ‘canonical narratives’, 1991). The second is of a narrative as a situated construction, such as the biography produced by a speaker within a particular interaction. In this article, I propose an expanded analytic focus which considers how the versions of a biographical narrative produced in previous tellings become resources for future talk, thus setting constraints on a reflexive speaker’s work to construct a coherent identity across separate interactions and contexts (Taylor & Littleton, forthcoming).


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