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 different aspects of biographical work. I started off with Life story telling that investigated the microscopic, phenomenal life and asked how we might best gather ‘true’ stories (a methodological and epistemological concern). I soon widened out my interest to ask questions about a sociology of stories – the social conditions for telling stories in time and space. Later, 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 a transformative narrative humanity and what might be called worldly care: how our stories can move our world on to a better place. I have moved here perpetually between the personal, the political and the professional.
Key works in this order include:
(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).
1990 “Herbert Blumer and the Life History Tradition” Symbolic Interaction Vol. 13, No 2 Fall 1990 p125-44 (Together with: Norman K. Denzin, “The Spaces of Postmodernism: Reading Plummer on Blumer”, and Ken Plummer, “Staying in the empirical World : Symbolic Interactionism and Postmodernism”, Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 13 p155-60.
2009 ‘On Narrative Pluralism’ Preface to Phillip L. Hammack & Bertram J.Cohler eds The Story of Sexual Identity: Narrative Perspectives on the Gay and Lesbian Life Course
2012 ‘My Multiple Sick Bodies: Symbolic Interaction, Auto/ethnography and the Sick Body’ – in Bryan S. Turner ed Blackwell Handbook of the Body, Blackwell
2013 ‘A Manifesto for Social Stories’ in Liz Stanley ed, Documents of Life for the 21st Century Ashgate
2017 ‘On the Infinitude of Story Telling: Still Puzzling Queer Tales after all these years’ “Queer Autoethnographies” forum for a Spring 2017 issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. Vol 4 No 1 p189-97