On coming to narrative and life history

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


How can we research others’ professional identities if we acknowledge they are in a constant state of becoming? This struggle with the dangers, complexities and presumptions of attempting to research and represent the ‘other’ first prompted me to re-examine that which I thought I knew intimately; that is, my own story and my realization of the importance that narrative can play in research. In this chapter, I explore my conceptual position of narrative ecology. That is, how I encountered it and developed it as one approach to narrative inquiry that comes closer to understanding the learning and development of ‘others’ and ourselves. The first half of this chapter plots the genealogy of my research journey to a position of narrative ecology. In the second half I explore what I term ‘threshold experiences’ which I define as those experiences that have recurring and notable significance throughout our life course, connecting our past with our future to shape and mould the present in ways that influence and challenge the on-going process of learning and making meaning. I illustrate this through an aspect of my own story of becoming, which is an account of my teacher-to-teacher-education story. I argue throughout that the process of coming to know and becoming is effortful, on-going and capricious, but significantly rooted in the here and now. Although narrative is both a significant and optimal medium for personal, social, cultural and political renewal, it is not without risk from parochialism and dislocation. I conclude that these risks are avoided by locating life stories within their wider historical context to build narrative capital, which we may come to know.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History
EditorsI Goodson, A Antikainen, P Sikes, M Andrews
Place of PublicationLondon/New York
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic) 9781315768199
ISBN (Print)9781138784291
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2016


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