Discerning the Dialogical Self: A Theoretical and Methodological Examination of a Nepali Adolescent's Narrative

Debra Skinner, Jaan Valsiner, Dorothy Holland


Mikhail BAKHTIN's ideas of heteroglossia, voice, utterance, and dialogism are important theoretical concepts for investigating relations between social and personal facets of human development, especially the development of identity or self-understandings in cultural worlds. Yet methodological and analytic procedures for discerning voices in individuals' self-representations are relatively unexplored. In this paper, we discuss how BAKHTIN's ideas can be used in a type of narrative analysis that focuses on the construction of individual identity and positionality within cultural worlds. We use an empirical example from one Nepali adolescent's narration of self, collected as part of an extensive ethnographic study in a rural community in Nepal, to illustrate the conjunction of theory and method in discerning how individuals orchestrate the voices from their cultural and social worlds to create distinctive images of self and to envision their (future) social positions. Our examination of this narrative indicates that self processes orchestrate and transform social voices for past, present and future forms of self-understandings and cultural meanings. The primary foci in this paper are the theoretical concepts, methods and analysis that aid the researcher in discerning and understanding these voices and their orchestrations.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0103187


BAKHTIN; identity; narrative; self processes; cultural worlds; heteroglossia; voice; utterance; dialogism; Nepal; speech genre; social language; caste; ideological consciousness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-2.3.913

Copyright (c) 2001 Debra Skinner, Jaan Valsiner, Dorothy Holland

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