Introduction: Key Works on Stories and Narratives
Looking back over the past half century, I can see my own studies of life stories moving through four phases – each attending to very different aspects of biographical work. I started off with (1) Life story telling and Documents of Life that investigated the microscopic, phenomenal life and asks how we might best gather ‘true’ stories (a methodological and epistemological concern). I widened out my interest to ask questions about (2) a sociology of stories – the social conditions for telling stories in time and space. Later, (3) A sociology of narrative power put the focus on inequalities in storytelling, with the shifting role of media, of world governance, with time, future, and narratives to come. And finally, in my most recent work I have turned to the wider macro concerns of (4) a narrative humanity and what might be called ‘worldly care’. And a perpetual movement between the personal, the political and the professional.
(1) ‘Doing Life Histories’, (with A. Faraday) Sociological Review, Vol. 27, 773-92, November l979.Documents of Life: An Introduction to the problems and literature of a Humanistic Method, (1983) Allen & Unwin, London, pp. l75.
(2) Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Intimacy and Social Worlds (1995) pp 244. Routledge: London.Documents of Life-2: An Invitation to a Critical Humanism (2001) (fully revised and much expanded edition of Documents of Life, 1983) pp315. London: Sage
(3) Narrative Power: The Struggle for Human Value. (Cambridge, Polity, 2019).
(4) Critical Humanism: A Manifesto for a 21st Century (Cambridge, Polity, 2021).