Accepted Paper:

Scalar selves: narratives, interviews and the responses of informants  

Author:

Berndt Clavier (Malmö University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the implications of three interconnected theoretical critiques of human communication in relation to the interview as a methodological challenge, namely narrative theory, theories of subjectivity, and scalar/spatial theory. The ambition is to develop a more realistic approach to what people say when they are interviewed.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I would like to discuss the implications of three interconnected theoretical critiques of common sense assumptions related to human communication, namely narrative theory, theories of subjectivity, and scalar/spatial theory. What I am particularly interested in is the way in which the interview assumes access to the consciousness of the informant. When informants are asked questions, their answers are treated as coming from them as individuals. This projection of an individual response is then often theoretically generalized in the ensuing analysis, a generalization that makes the response available in terms of a preexisting collective identity, e.g. immigrant, Turk, Muslim, woman, man, etc. However, from a philosophical point of view there is much to suggest that we need to be suspicious not only of the generality of the generalized and collective identities, but also of the way in which the individual is constructed based on the narrative responses given. By addressing these issues through the lens of scalar theory, a more realistic approach to what people say might be offered.

Panel W023
For a sceptical anthropology?