Nature and Implications of a Narrative Self – Ambiguity of the ‘Snowflake’

Merel van Heusden, University College Utrecht

Many sociologists writing about modernity are critical of the increasing freedom and corresponding responsibility placed on individuals to decide about their own lives. This self-determination requires the construction of a self-narrative through reflexivity. Recently, this emphasis on individual responsibility has been related to rising rates of anxiety and mental illness. An aspect that is often overlooked in this theoretical framework however, is the interrelational nature of the self-narrative. This is investigated in this paper using the following research question: Can a narrative view of identity construction be considered as more accurate than a sociological view and how does this change the perception of risks accredited to individualism?

Whereas most sociologists frame the narrative self as individualist, theorists like Taylor argue that constructing a stable self-identity is not possible without a basis of shared values and a recognition of this identity by others. Moreover, this self-identity cannot be individually constructed because it is influenced by the cultural, historical and political background of the time as the individual constructs their narrative. Thus, the narrative view allows for a nuanced view on the consequences of individualism through looking at the complexities of self-narratives

Keywords: narrativity, selfhood, identity, modernity

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