Seminar 1 (slides)

Margareta Hydén
Linköping University
My way to narrative studies
• Interviews with 20 couples – 20 men who
had been violent on several occasions and 20
women who had been victims of their
• Interviewed them every 3rd month for two
years, started immediately after the the men
been reported to the police
• 141 interviews Warning !!!!!
My way to narrative studies
• Collected shorter (women) or longer
(men) accounts of how it all started,
• about the violent incident (women),
• about the after-math (women and men
• Tried to analyse the ”data” using
grounded theory – found that I ”killed the
My way to narrative studies
• Elliot Mishler, Harvard Medical School
• Catherine Kohler Riessman, Boston
• Centre for Narrative Research, UEL
Narrative-in-interaction in the
context of interpersonal violence
The twentieth century will be remembered as
a century marked by violence. It burdens us
with its legacy of mass destruction, of
violence inflicted on a scale never seen and
never possible before in human history.
Less visible, but even more widespread, is the
legacy of day-to-day, individual suffering. It is
the pain of children who are abused by people
who should protect them, women injured or
humiliated by violent partners, elderly persons
maltreated by their caregivers, youths who are
bullied by other youths, and people of all ages
who inflict violence on themselves. This
suffering – and there are many more examples
that I could give – is a legacy that reproduces
itself, as new generations learn from the
violence of generations past, as victims learn
from victimizers, and as the social conditions
that nurture violence are allowed to continue.
No country, no city, no community is immune.
But neither are we powerless against it.
• Many who live with violence day in and day out
assume that it is an intrinsic part of the human
condition. But this is not so. Violence can be
prevented. Violent cultures can be turned around.
In my own country and around the world, we
have shining examples of how violence has been
countered. Governments, communities and
individuals can make a difference”.
• Nelson Mandela 2002
Responses to Interpersonal Violence
RIV research focuses:
not on causation,
not on the linear between cause and effect
not on the ethology of interpersonal violence
on the circular, i.e. on the responses to interpersonal
• on interpersonal violence as socially situated
• RIV research focuses on
• the relation between response as lived experience
and response as known subjectivity, i.e. the
dialogue between world/body and
• The study of response accounts (narratives,
reports etc.) constitutes a way of approaching this
• (1) Narrative-in-interaction refers to the study of
this relation
• RIV research seeks to grasp human
behaviour, violence in close relationships,
through the study of responses and the
use humans make of language for telling
about the responses
• (2) The concept ”narrative-in-interaction”
hints that there is more than one narrative
in the air – and the one must find a way to
deal with this.
• It is not the first time this is mentioned:
”Innombrable sont les récit du monde”
Roland Barthes
”The word in language is half someone else’s. It
becomes ’one’s own’ only when the speaker
populates it with his own intention, his own
accent, when he appropriates the word, adopting
his own semantic and expressive intention…. It is
from there one must take the word and make it
one’s own.”
Mikhail Bakhtin (dialogism)
• Conversation Analysis is an approach to
the study of natural conversations
• Discourse analysis the use of spoken or
written language in a social context.
• Counter-narratives offer resistance to
dominant cultural narratives
To set the stage for story telling about social
responses to domestic violence – and be
prepared to listen to more than one story:
The personal social network map
• 1) The personal social network map
provides a set of potential
actors/protagonists in the response drama
as a lived experience
• 2) The personal social network map
provides a point of departure/framework
for tellings (knowing) about the response
The responses to violence as
storied social responses
• 40 women interviewed from city, small
town and rural settings
• No direct observation but some
ethnographic data collected
Narrative-in -interaction
• (3) Narratives-in-interaction may form a
main narrative (ground) and backing or
conflicting narratives (figure)
• (4) Narratives-in-interaction may form a
hierarchical or a same level organization
Main, backing & conflicting
Backing & conflicting narratives/storylines are narratives in
there own right, but with special qualities and capacities in
relation to the main narrative
A backing narrative/storyline strengthens the main narrative
A conflicting narrative/storyline weakens the main story
The storied nature of social responses to
interpersonal violence:
Betty’s story
• Main narrative: “Domestic violence is not OK”
• Backing family narrative: “Violence in families is not OK but it may
happen and it must be controlled”.
• Backing social network/family narrative: “We are family. Families are
for support and order”.
• Backing social network/family narrative: “The men in the family must
take action in order to control the violence and support the victims”.
• Backing storyline (Betty’s): “I am there for them, they are there for
• Backing social network/coworkers storyline: “Violence in families are
not OK but it may happen and it must be controlled and the victims
• Protagonists: Family, friends and coworkers
The storied nature of social responses to
interpersonal violence: The conflicting (opposing)
• Main narrative: “Domestic violence is not
• The conflicting narrative is a ”but” –
The power of backing narratives
• Conclusion:
• There is a need for analysing not only the
main but also the backing narratives
• Never underestimate the power of the
backing narratives
The storied nature of social responses
to interpersonal violence:
Anna’s story
Main narrative: ”Domestic violence is not OK”
Main family (mother &sisters) narrative: ”Violence is not OK and it doesn’t
happen in our family.”
Backing family (mother & sisters) narrative: “We are the role-model for
many families in town and we want it to stay this way.”
Backing family (mother & sisters) narrative: “Father may not be disturbed”
Conflicting (Anna’s) narrative: “We are family and I need their help. This is
what families are for”.
Protagonists: Mother & sisters
Missing protagonists: Father, colleagues
Strong norms (main narrative) against family violence are not
enough to stop the violence (?)
A backing family narrative and backing social network
narratives need to be added (?)
Conflicting narratives may oppose the backing narratives
without opposing the main narrative or the backing family
narrative (?).
More narrative research is needed
• ”Narratives are identity performances. We
express, display, make claims for who we are –
and who we would like to be – in the stories we tell
and how we tell them. In sum, we perform our
Elliot Mishler (1999) Storylines. Craft Artists’
Narratives of Identity
Narrative as identity performances:
Anna, the excluded, Betty, the included.
Narrative-in -interaction
• Finally some words about a work in
• Mothers and teenage sons talking about
violence in close relationships:
• Victims´ and Bodyguards 'narratives in
• Margareta Hydén & David Gadd:
”Bodyguards with and without a mission”

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