Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview

19
FRAMES OF MIND THROUGH NARRATIVE DISCOURSE

Ayhan Aksu-Koç Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

Narratives are cultural as well as individual affairs. To the extent that the entry of an individual into his or her culture is mediated by language, any personal narrative, account, or other kind of monologic text will be reflective of prior dialogic processes in the history of the narrator. Thus, a piece of narrative discourse can be taken as a context where the culture embodied by the individual unfolds simultaneously. In this study I investigate the ways in which the socioculturally determined individual comes through in the creation of a text.

The notion of cultural implies a shared perspective regarding ways of life and symbolic systems maintained within a social group, or in LeVine's terms, "an inherited system of ideas that structures the subjective experience of individuals" ( 1984, p. 20). Furthermore, within a culture there are subcultures, groups, or communities definable in terms of an intersection of properties such as ethnicity, gender, education, and economic standing. Almost everywhere, gender plays a role in the determination of the individual consciousness since socialization proceeds in accordance with behavior patterns and norms deemed appropriate for males and females. A self which is the product of socialization into a given sex role, then, is a member of a subculture or group. Similarly, education, which involves socialization in a formal institutional context, will have determining effects on the individual's level of literacy, cognitive skills, the extent to which these are used in everyday life, as well as his social standing ( Cole & Scribner, 1984). The various constellations of these properties are expressed in the perception and interpretation of experience as well as practices of everyday life associated with different social groups. Each individual, then, experiences and interprets the world collectively within the interpretive frames of given subcultures as well as singularly as his or hers. It can therefore be assumed that when individuals create or interpret texts, the product is a function of the "frame of mind" which is determined by individual as well as sociocultural variables. In other words, every narrative has to be regarded as "contingent on a wider set of narratives" (Gee, 1991, p.3).


NARRATIVE DISCOURSE

Narrative is a genre of discourse generated in oral or written language. Students of narrative in different disciplines adopt different approaches: linguistic analyses focus on

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