Wednesday, 30 April 2014

We Live Our Lives in Narrative


     In realizing that narratives constantly surround the world in which we live in, we are able to recognize which we construct ourselves through various narrative forms. The movies we watch, the books we read, and even media, such as the news, play into repeated narratives that have been constructed for centuries. Because we are surrounded by these constant discourses, we learn to construct our own “stories” by them, as well. From a social constructionist perspective, one is able to dissect how we establish certain narratives and how we act out expected narrative performances.

     As Vivien Burr discusses in her, book, An Introduction to Social Construction, “It is useful to think of these narratives as the ways we live out our lives as well as the way we privately or publicly tell of them” (Burr, 93). In other words, people begin to shape their lives in forms of narratives, such as comedy, romance, or tragedy, which each take on different characteristic forms. A “romance” narrative, for example, is a dominant discourse in our Western culture, where the climax for many people’s narratives is finding one’s “soul mate”. Additionally, there are distinguishing construct narratives that both males and females are expected to abide by.

     However, there can be implications for those who change the dominant, accepted narratives of a situation, and attempt to fit them into a new narrative framework. Take the images I attached for example about the Boston bombing victim costume, as well as the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin costumes. In both cases, the largely accepted narratives were “tragedy”, to which most people responded to them in this way. However, as we can see, some people chose to reshape the constructed “tragic” narrative to one of “comedy”. Furthermore, these people received immense backlash from communities of people who felt that they were dismantling the moral structure connected to death and tragedy. For a social constructionist, it is apparent here to see that the larger community were not willing to play as “co-actors” in the construction of these comedic stories. Therefore, we can see that a large part of people’s personal narratives are dependent upon the relationships that are willing to support the events of our narratives.

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