GSE Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

April 1999


Recent work in "distributed" and "situated" cognition has moved away from psychological structure as the primary explanation for human understanding. Instead, structures at various levels of explanation - at least the linguistic, social, cultural, interactional, and mental - together constitute successful cognition. Analogously, this article argues the self is not primarily a psychological entity, but instead emerges from structures at various levels of explanation. The article focuses on the level of interactional positioning in conversation to illustrate how non-psychological structure can partly constitute the self. It focuses on the interactional positioning done by narrators as they tell stories about themselves and describes the interactional functions of autobiographical narrative discourse. Bakhtin's theory of language's interactional functions is drawn and applied to one life story.


Reprinted from Journal of Constructivist Psychology, Volume 12, Issue 2, March 1999, pages 153-172.
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Date Posted: 04 June 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.