Class and narrative accrual: personal troubles and public issues in five vignettes.

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Spokes, Matthew (2017)
  • Subject: HM | HT

This paper develops Bruner’s (1991) notion of narrative accrual, in conjunction with ‘life-stories’ and ‘event-stories’, to focus on the accumulation of experiences as a contributor to working class identity. Situated between Mills’ (1959) personal troubles and public issues, and framed by Nouri and Helterline (1998) argument that identity is framed by social interaction with signification systems and other people, the author’s own experiences as an early career academic in two different British Universities – one more research-oriented with a predominantly middle-class student body, the other more teaching-oriented with a more class diverse student body – are utilized to forward ‘personal narrative accrual’ as a way of both conceptualizing and unpacking class associations, reflecting on Warnock’s (2016) fivefold typology of alienation, cultural capital, stereotyping/microaggression, survivor guilt/impostor syndrome and middle class networking. Ultimately, this paper considers the interrelated problems of working class identity, career development, and ‘playing the game’ through autobiographical vignettes, and suggests the potential application of personal narrative accrual in decreasing feelings of isolation in academia by working class academics.
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