Identity in life narratives
In the spirit of Jerome Bruner’s call for the study of individuals’ appropriation of cultural meanings, this paper outlines a “generative” theory of identity based on study-of-lives interviews conducted with young adult Americans and Moroccans. This theory holds that multiple self-representations tend to be integrated by structurally-ambiguous key symbols and metaphors whose meanings can change via figure-ground like shifts in the salience of their features — and that identity-formation employs some of the same cognitive structures as tonal music to organize personal meanings. This “generative” theory of multiple identities complements McAdams’ story structure model and Hermans’ dialogical model.
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