Life “on holiday”?

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There has been an increasing emphasis in narrative inquiry on “small” stories (i.e., those derived from everyday social exchanges) rather than “big” stories (i.e., those derived from interviews, clinical encounters, autobiographical writing, and other such interrogative venues). The latter, it may be argued, inevitably entail a problematic distance from everyday reality and may thus be said to embody life “on holiday.” On one level, this is surely true: big stories, insofar as they entail a significant measure of reflection on either an episode, a portion of a life, or the whole of it, are a step removed from those everyday goings-on that are the focus of small stories. Far from necessarily being a liability, however, the distance that is intrinsic to big story narrative reflection creates opportunities for understanding that are largely unavailable in the immediacy of the moment. Big stories and small stories thus complement one another; taken together, they represent a promising integrative direction for narrative inquiry.


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