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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies


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Publication details for Dr Peter J. Collins

Collins, P.J. (2003). Storying Self and Others: The Construction of Narrative Identity. Journal of Language and Politics 2(2): 243-264.

Author(s) from Durham


Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork undertaken among British Quakers this article attempts to elucidate some of the connections between the narrative quality of everyday interaction and the local construction of self. Focusing on the Quaker Meeting, we find that the social identity of individual participants is precipitated in the interplay between three modes of discourse: the prototypical or individual, the vernacular and the canonic. For individuals to participate successfully in Meeting they are required to present and then reconstruct their autobiographical selves in response to their increasing familiarisation both with well-known canonic texts and also the local expression of these texts. The tensions which characterise this process might be said to define the politics of community in this case.