Political Activism and Narrative Analysis: The Biographical Template and the Meat Pot


  • Brian Roberts University of Central Lancashire




political activism, narrative, biographical template, meals, rituals, family and generational transmission, the personal myth


This article examines the autobiographical and some other writings of Mamphela RAMPHELE, a former political and community activist in South Africa with reference to forms of narrative analysis. It is argued that these writings can be viewed together and compared as auto­biographical texts. This view raises a number of methodological issues concerning the degree of re-interpretation and other changes in the "re­telling" of an account in different circumstances and form. The article compares this single case with models of "political activism" where individuals orientate their lives and activities towards various social goals. Here the attempt is to link and analyse the particular case within wider analyses of political activism. The article argues that in RAMPHELE's narrative telling and retelling certain events in terms of communal rituals and boundary crossings, she has utilised a "reflective biographical template" in her life which she both returned to and re-used as she met new challenges and situations. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0403107


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Author Biography

Brian Roberts, University of Central Lancashire

Brian ROBERTS teaches sociology at the University of Huddersfield. He is author of Biographical Research, 2002, Open University Press and Vice-President, Biography and Society. RC38, ISA.




How to Cite

Roberts, B. (2004). Political Activism and Narrative Analysis: The Biographical Template and the Meat Pot. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 5(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-5.3.569