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The big story about small stories: Narratives of crime and terrorism

Wilson, John and Stapleton, Karyn (2010) The big story about small stories: Narratives of crime and terrorism. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 14 (3). pp. 287-312. [Journal article]

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DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9841.2010.00446.x


The 'big story/small story' distinction has emerged as a discrete approach to narrative analysis. Proponents of this approach are critical of the 'big stories' elicited by structural analysts, which they see as highly structured narratives of past experiences, typically elicited in an interview context. In contrast, they highlight the importance of studying the fragmented, contextualised 'small stories' that arise in everyday conversation/interaction. We question the basis of this distinction and we suggest that it unnecessarily proliferates analytic categories. Further, we suggest that the methodologies followed by 'small stories' analysts are often similar to those used to elicit 'big stories' and are hence open to similar criticisms; in particular, a failure to fully consider the issue of (contextual) naturalism. Drawing on interviews of crime/terrorism in Northern Ireland, we show how these data comprise both 'big stories' and 'small stories' within the same context and often within the same narrative.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:Big stories • small stories • narrative • interview • contextual naturalism • observer's paradox
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Communication
Research Institutes and Groups:Institute for Research in Social Sciences
Institute for Research in Social Sciences > Communication
ID Code:14721
Deposited By: Dr Karyn Stapleton
Deposited On:03 Aug 2010 12:06
Last Modified:06 Nov 2012 11:49

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