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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 1, 2012

Narratives in intergenerational communication: Collaborating with the other

Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak


In a setting featuring communicators of different generations, linguistic variation co-occurs with strongly categorizing expectations shaped by normative views of age identities, roles and discourses. On the other hand, social actors consciously use linguistic means to achieve a variety of ends, for example claiming common or distinct ground (with/from others) by sharing or contesting meanings. Narrative is one of these means. In the context researched here it involves not only life course accounts or longer autobiographic narratives, but also small stories (cf. Bamberg and Georgakopoulou 2008). Although researchers (e.g. Kemper et al. 1989) found an age-related decrement in the complexity of stories told by adults, which is due to working memory limitations, intergenerational conversations are full of narratives which the older and the younger co-produce. In a set of interviews, interlocutors of disparate generations shared stories on a variety of topics. The qualitative analysis focused on the mechanisms of the stories being collaboratively produced and the patterns of participants taking on their telling roles. In the results, the short, personal narratives are shown to be the interactional achievement of communicative goals. Storytelling in interaction is an individual self-projection, shaped by specific social values and drawn from specific cultural resources, and, importantly, accomplished together with the interlocutor.

Received: 2011-11-01
Revised: 2011-12-20
Accepted: 2011-12-23
Published Online: 2012
Published in Print: 2012

© School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2012