Analyzing Novelty and Pattern in Institutional Life Narratives

Authored by: Jaber F. Gubrium , James A. Holstein

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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Life narratives are continually subject to reconstruction. Mundane as they might be, chance encounters, events such as career downturns, and occasions like psychiatric consultations prompt life revision. Emphasized are terms that reference the present, points of departure for the pragmatist analysis of experience through time. In a seminal lecture titled “The Present as the Locus of Reality,” philosopher George Herbert Mead (1959/1930) flagged this decades ago, explaining that, in practice, “a reality that transcends the present must exhibit itself in the present” (p. 11). As Arthur Murphy indicated in prefatory remarks, “(It was Mead’s view that) the irrevocable past is the past of any given present, that which accounts for its occurrence” (p. xviii).

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