Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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Using perspectives from interactional sociolinguistics (Goffman, 1956; Gumperz, 1982, 1992; Schiffrin, 1996; Tannen, 2005) and discursive psychology (Bamberg, 1997, Davies & Harré, 1999, Wortham, 2001) this analysis demonstrates how three sisters reveal their very different personalities, styles, and stances in the collaborative narrative process, and yet come together in the end to affirm the common family ethos. The sisters’ roles in the family system are played out both in the story world and also in the interactional context of the storytelling. A distinction is made between apparently intentional self-disclosure as part of a positioning strategy of explicit evaluation, and inadvertent self-disclosure in the enactment whereby the relationships within the family system are revealed. The data will be of interest to students of narrative because (1) the context in which the data was recorded highlights the idea of a family as a community of practice; (2) the “family” consists of three unmarried sisters who had lived together for 60 years; (3) the discourse data is triangulated with ethnographic background knowledge and letters written by the siblings; (4) the shaping power of context is revealed through an immediate revision of the story by the narrator; and (5) the data provides an example of a story “abstract” being treated in two ways by the same narrator: as a “result” for which an explanation must be provided, and as a “complicating action” for which a result must be supplied.


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