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Theorizing Narrative Identity: Symbolic Interationism and Hermeneutics


Ezzy, D, Theorizing Narrative Identity: Symbolic Interationism and Hermeneutics, Sociological Quarterly, 39, (2) pp. 239-252. ISSN 0038-0253 (1998) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.1998.tb00502.x


This article argues for a synthesis of George Herbert Mead's conception of the temporal and intersubjective nature of the self with Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutic theory of narrative identity. Combining the insights of Ricoeur's philosophical analysis with Mead's social-psychological orientation provides a subtle, sophisticated, and potent explanation of self-identity. A narrative conception of identity implies that subjectivity is neither a philosophical illusion nor an impermeable substance. Rather, a narrative identity provides a subjective sense of self-continuity as it symbolically integrates the events of lived experience in the plot of the story a person tells about his or her life. The utility of this conception of identity is illustrated through a rereading of Erving Goffman's study of the experience of mental patients. This example underlines the social sources of the self-concept and the role of power and politics in the construction of narrative identities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social change
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Social structure and health
UTAS Author:Ezzy, D (Professor Douglas Ezzy)
ID Code:70934
Year Published:1998
Web of Science® Times Cited:170
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2011-07-05
Last Modified:2011-07-05

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