9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Narrative Research Building II, B2.01

Politicizing the Narrative or Narrativizing the Political? Methods for Reconstructing a Political Life Story

On the face of it, it seems that Anderson has helped us to explore national identity beyond the scope narrative scholars such as Labov and Waletzky have reached. While the phenomenological narrative study concentrates on the experienced events, we must search for a method to incorporate also the images retrieved from history and myths into the narrative fabric of the Self. Anderson has ostensibly helped us in that. The theory about the constitution of ?imagined community? helps understanding the formation of the political Self not only via the experienced life but also through the use of such secondary knowledge. Anderson claims that these too become resources for the constitution of the political Weltanschauung. But how ?exactly? does that process happen? How does that ?abstract? type of knowledge become part of the individual experience? It seems that here, the method of narrative analysis can help in return.
Studying the formation of identity out of experiences concentrates on deciphering the subjective meaning of events. According to Labov, a story is not only an account of pointless events that happened to someone per se. Rather it is constructed around the subjective meaning of the event for the narrator. The narrative method extracts it.
That way of looking at narratives is very different from the straightforward way political world-view is generally viewed and discussed in literature. Rather than the latter?s concentration on arguments as the bricks of the discourse, attention is moved here to narrations.
Now the focus of attention turns to the careful reconstruction of the implicit meaning which is elicited from the various narrative components. Thus, we can reconstruct the individual use of collective resources, by comparing the explicit with the implicit.
The presentation will demonstrate this claim and discuss the consequences for the study of political perspectives, as the empirical findings of the research suggest.