Forms of identities and levels of positioning
A practice theoretical approach to narrative interviewing
What happens in narrative-biographical interviews? The present article answers this question by drawing on biographical (big story) and practice-based (small story) approaches. It starts from a practice theoretical reading of Harrison C. White’s identity theory and conceptualizes narrative-biographical interviews as arenas of storytelling practices that engage in identities of different forms and levels of positioning. Interviewees devise small identities, embed them in contexts and nest those identities-in-context with one another in the course of interactions with the interviewer. Meanwhile, the approach reflects autobiographic big storytelling as highly scripted and contextualized endeavors. It moves beyond the big story script by suggesting “style” as target concept for autobiographical analysis. This conceptual shift goes hand in hand with a move away from single-sited interviewing to multi-sited narrative research. The argument is exemplified using rich data on a nascent self-employed artist.
Keywords: small stories, BNIM, Narrative-biographic interview, identity, positioning, big story, ethnography, markets, Harrison C. White, sociology
Published online: 30 June 2016
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