Narrative Development: Six Approaches

Narrative Development: Six Approaches

Narrative Development: Six Approaches

Narrative Development: Six Approaches


Growing out of an International Society of the Study of Behavioral Development-sponsored symposium, this book discusses the basic assumptions that led the contributors to conduct research in the field of narrative development. This collection gathers their research reflections and varying approaches to narrative and its development. It illustrates each type of approach and highlights their respective motives. The book presents some of the basic motivating assumptions of each approach and provides insight into what holds each set of assumptions together, potentially transforming them into actions. This book will serve as an excellent text for courses emphasizing multiple approaches to the study of narrative.

The editor has organized this volume in accordance with the six main points of the symposium:

Specification of the Domain --how narratives are defined in terms of textual structures, knowledge thereof, interactive moves, sociocultural conventions, and the like.

The Individual's Involvement in the Developmental Process --the relationship between some internal or external forces and the organism's own active participation in the developmental process.

The Course of Development --if it is continuous or discontinuous; whether it proceeds in an additive fashion or whether regressive phases occur; and what changes at different points in the developmental process signify.

The Goal of Development --the implicit notion of a telos, a target or end-point that needs to occur in the developmental process.

Mechanisms of Development --the forces and/or conditions that both instigate the developmental process and keep it moving toward its telos.

Methodology --where and how to look in the establishment of a developmental framework.

This book is an indispensable text in the fields of narrative and/or discourse, linguistics, language studies, psychology, and education in general.


Research publications are usually judged on the basis of their findings or results. The process that leads to the findings--to those, at least, who have sufficient training and share the background assumptions--is revealed in the methods that are described. However, to those who do not share the same presuppositions, the Method section does not necessarily contribute to a better understanding; rather, it is perceived as hiding more than it reveals. In the introductory sections of research publications, space limitations often allow authors only to touch on the relevant literature and state where and how they deviate from it, leaving the wider audience or readership to look up those references to see how the original assumptions that led to this research were formulated. In brief, authors rarely have the opportunity to spell out the basic assumptions that led them to do what they are doing, and readers find themselves too often and too quickly pulled into an approach or into a set of theoretical assumptions that is hard to question because it is not spelled out. Still worse, authors themselves have become so absorbed by the genre of research reporting that even they are no longer aware of why they are doing whatever it is that they are doing.

In order to break out of this potentially hampering treadmill, a number of the contributors to this volume met in the format of a symposium at the International Society of the Study of Behavioural Development meetings in 1991 in Minneapolis to present and discuss the basic assumptions that led us to do research in the domain of "narrative development." We were all aware that we were working in different frameworks, but our respect for each other, as well as our shared goal of finding out how children learn to tell stories and how these stories change over the life . . .

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