Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

Life stories are narratives that individuals or groups (co-)construct to share experiences. Research in narrative studies distinguishes between big stories and small stories in this context. While the term big story mainly refers to the coherent narrative of a person’s self or personal identity, so-called small stories qualify as narratives we tell each other in everyday communication for the purposes of making sense of our experiences and forming collective identities with specific social groups.

A special type of small story is the “broken narrative” (Nünning and Nünning 2016) – stories people tell to come to terms with lifechanging experiences such as a severe illness, a trauma, or other kinds of social, political, economic, or ecological crisis. Since these narratives are associated with a drastic rupture in people’s lives, they display a high degree of tellability; they are frequently incoherent, fragmented, or disorganized (see Hyvärinen et al. 2010). Migrant stories may constitute such broken narratives, especially if they deal with traumatic experiences of war, violence, suppression, or flight. 

⇢ see also Experience, Migrant narrative, Migration and identity, Narrative identityTellability

References and further reading:

Bamberg, Michael. 2007. “Stories: Big or Small – Why Do We Care?” In Narrative – State of the Art, edited by Michael Bamberg, 165–174. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Bamberg, Michael, and Alexandra Georgakopoulou. 2008. “Small Stories as a New Perspective in Narrative and Identity Analysis.” Text & Talk 28.3: 377–396. Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2006. Small Stories, Interaction and Identities. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Hyvärinen, Matti, Lars-Christer Hydén, Marja Saarenheimo, and Maria Tamboukou, eds. 2010. Beyond Narrative Coherence. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Nünning, Ansgar, and Vera Nünning. 2016. “Conceptualizing ‘Broken Narratives’ from a Narratological Perspective: Domains, Concepts, Features, Functions, and Suggestions for Research.” In Narrative im Bruch: Theoretische Positionen und Anwendungen, edited by Anna Babka, Marlen Bidwell-Steiner, and Wolfgang Müller-Funk, 37–86. Wien: V & R unipress / Vienna University Press.

Ochs, Elinor, and Lisa Capps. 2001. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7