The Transformation of Narrative Syntax into Institutional Memory
Narrative has been analyzed as a way of recounting the memory of the past and negotiating current group membership. But in an institutional context, it crucially functions to project the future, in constructing a record which can serve as an institutional memory available in case of possible challenges. Using as data an extended oral narrative from a social service agency about an incident of violence by a client, this study shows that the strongest structural constraints on the discourse and syntactic structure of the narrative are the requirements for a bureaucratically adequate written record. This analysis serves as a case study of how the larger social structure of legal requirements for adequate records serves to shape the structure of oral narrative, as well as a demonstration of the work oral narrative does in producing and reproducing institutional memory. (Discourse, Narrative, Memory, Bureaucratic Language, Language of Violence)
Published online: 01 January 1999
Cited by 12 other publications
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