Why Study People’s Stories? The Dialogical Ethics of Narrative Analysis

Arthur W. Frank

Abstract


Narrative analysis is presented as continuous with personal storytelling in the work of remoralizing what Weber identified as disenchanted modernity. Critics of contemporary storytelling seem to misunderstand what kind of authenticity of self is expressed in stories. Against those whom Charles Taylor calls "knockers" of the idea of personal authenticity, this article affirms authenticity, but in terms that are dialogical: authenticity is created in the process of storytelling, it is not a precondition of the telling, and authenticity remains in process. This authenticity is shown to have an affinity with democratic politics, in contrast to the neo-liberal affinity of the knocker position.

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