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Collective Identity and Narrative Practice

Collective Identity and Narrative Practice

(p.22) One Collective Identity and Narrative Practice
Beyond Betrayal
Patricia EwickMarc W. Steinberg
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents an emergentist framework on collective identity, drawing on strands of phenomenology and pragmatism to complement the classical model. Identity work is envisioned as a dialogic and dilemmic process in which actors attempt to establish provisional stability on temporal, external and internal axes. This is an evolving process largely accomplished through narratives. Collective actors draw on familiar emplotments, and at times appropriate canonical stories. They produce origin stories to explain how they were compelled into action, and successor stories to provide a sense of ongoing agency. Ritual action is a vehicle for the telling of these stories. Instead of focusing on the immanent logic of strategic goals embedded in the classical model, action is conceived in terms of projects. Projects are the broadly imagined futures animated by stories. They differ from goals in that their specifics are emergent in the flow of action and responsive to the flow of experience. We suggest that these processes are best analyzed at the micro level.

Keywords:   collective identity, multidimensional, axial, narrative, emergence

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