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...)

Narrative identity is shorthand for narrative’s contribution to processes of identity formation. Increasingly, linguists, philosophers, and psychologists are recognizing that storytelling plays a crucial role in the construction of personal and collective identity. Not only do we tell stories to convey information or entertain one another, but the narratives we share help define who we are by positioning the storyteller vis-à-vis existing cultural frameworks. At the individual level, the self is bound up with stories that mirror our past experiences and projections into the future. In social contexts, we perform an identity by telling stories in ways that suggest, more or less deliberately, our political beliefs and ethical values. In discussions on narrative and identity in sociolinguistics and psychology, it is customary to distinguish between “big” and “small” stories. Big stories are elaborate narratives, such as one may find in an autobiography or life story interview, that claim to paint a comprehensive picture of one’s identity. Small stories, by contrast, are fleeting narratives that emerge in everyday conversation and that also contain important information as to the storyteller’s identity. In different ways, both kinds of narrative are involved in the formation and performance of identity.

⇢ see also Life story, Narrative analysis, Migration and identityAttitudes, beliefs, and values

References and further reading:

Bruner, Jerome. 1986. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bamberg, Michael. 2007. “Stories: Big or Small. Why Do We Care?” In Narrative: State of the Art, edited by Michael Bamberg, 165–74. Philadelphia, PA and Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Category: A

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