GSE Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

January 2006


Many have argued that narrators can partly construct themselves when they tell autobiographical stories. For this reason, autobiographical narrative has been proposed as a therapeutic tool (Anderson 1997; Cohler 1988; White and Epston 1990), as a means to critique unjust social orders (Personal Narratives Group 1989; Rosenwald and Ochberg 1992; Zuss 1997), and as an educational tool (Cohen 1996; Witherell and Noddings 1991). This body of work makes at least two important points. First, the 'self' is not an unchanging entity beyond the reach of everyday human action, but is something that can under some circumstances be changed with effort. Second, changing the self can happen through the social practice of narration, not just through the activity of an isolated individual.


Postprint version. Published in Discourse and Identity, edited by Anna De Fina, Deborah Schiffrin, Michael Bamberg (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pages 315-341.



Date Posted: 01 May 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.