Speaker Roles in Personal Narratives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Narratives of personal experience are forms of social practice (Goodwin, 1990; Mandelbaum, 2003; Miller, Fung, & Koven, 2007; Ochs & Capps, 2001; Wortham, 2001). As such, rather than focus on the content, or plot, of stories, this chapter examines what people “do” through narrative. In particular, I follow those scholars who explore how participants do, or enact, identities in narrative (De Fina, Schiffrin, & Bamberg, 2006; Georgakapoulou, 2007; Koven, 2002, 2007; Miller, Fung, & Mintz, 1990, 1996; Ochs & Capps, 1996, 2001; Wortham, 2001). Particularly inspired by Bakhtin's (1981) concept of voicing and Goffman's (1979/1981) notion of footing, I discuss the speech events and associated speaker roles involved in the narrative enactment of identities. This chapter presents a framework for analyzing the multiple voices (Bakhtin, 1981) in narratives of personal experience. I examine how people describe, comment upon, and perform there-and-then events, perspectives, and identities in the here-and-now. I first explain the speech events and speaker roles involved in narrative. I next provide guidelines for identifying different speaker roles. To illustrate the practical uses of this approach, I then apply the framework to one entire narrative. I conclude by suggesting research questions the framework can be used to address, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVarieties of Narrative Analysis
EditorsJames A Holstein, Jaber F Gubrium
PublisherSAGE Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781506335117
ISBN (Print)9781412987554
StatePublished - 2012


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