Publication details [#56894]

Heinrichsmeier, Rachel. 2012. “What we’re going to be doing”: Small stories and the “doing” of institutional identity by guides of working visitor attractions. Narrative Inquiry 22 (2) : 384–404.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


A growing body of work charts and explicates the way participants in interactions constitute the context and their respective identities as ‘institutional’ through differences in a number of dimensions to ‘everyday’ talk. The role played by stories, particularly non-canonical or ‘small stories’, in this context-creating and identity-orientating work has been largely overlooked, although there is an expanding collection of studies into the affordances offered by different narrative types in terms of identity performance. Building on and combining existing research into institutional interaction on the one hand and narrative and identity on the other, the research discussed here starts to address the gap identified. Using fine-grained linguistic analysis and drawing on narrative positioning theory in a detailed analysis of two narratives recorded as part of a wider study, this paper aims to explicate the way participants — in this case guides in a working visitor attraction — may use different narrative types to orientate to their institutionally-ascribed identity of ‘guide’. The paper also highlights the benefits in terms of added nuance and depth of interpretation to be gained from using the tools of narrative analysis in investigating institutional contexts and identity.