Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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This paper is inspired by recent trends in narrative research that orient to the meaning-making actions of those involved in describing the life course. Applying concepts of narrative, discourse, and contrast, the complex meaning of growing up is presented by way of Lakeesha’s story, one of the 20 women interviewed for a project on African American gender socialization. Rather than viewing the participant in question as having been subject to the ostensible forces and parameters of socialization, she was offered the opportunity to represent her growing-up experiences in her own terms. She talked herself into being, situating herself as a particular type of women throughout her growing-up story — strategically employing and manipulating particular cultural discourses to do so. Lakeesha’s story is presented in this paper to illustrate a strategic model of narrative activity. In particular, I trace her use of the American Dream to analyze the ways that she situates herself with particular identities linked to local conceptions of successful womanhood. Methodological implications of this approach are considered in the conclusion.


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