Stability and Change in Narrative Identity: Introduction to the Special Issue on Repeated Narration


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Abstract

The present special issue of Qualitative Psychology grapples with what is among the most important and intractable problems that have arisen in the study of narrative identity: How can we conceptualize stability and change in the life story? This introduction to the special issue will frame the broad theoretical concerns that gave rise to the subsequent set of papers that engage this topic. It problematizes the notions of stability and change in narrative identity and argues that a focus on repeated narration, moments wherein narrators repeat similar content during 2 different interview sessions years apart, may offer a generative focus for further explicating stability and change and developing new theory. Crucially, the special issue includes 5 contributions from different authors all relying on the same 4 extended case studies of midlife adults drawn from the Foley Longitudinal Study of Adulthood. This introduction will introduce the 4 cases—2 considered “high repeaters” and 2 considered “low repeaters”—to provide the basic biographical arc of the stories which will be explored in the 5 contributions to this special issue. The data are comprised of 2 complete Life Story Interviews from each of the 4 participants, collected 5 years apart, along with shorter annual interviews in Years 2–4, as well as supplementary non-narrative data (such as self-reported dispositional traits) collected annually. Finally, the special issue will conclude with a commentary that returns to the nature of stability and change and draws connections across the entire special issue.

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