The Place of Argumentations in Biographical Narrations of Young Adults

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Gwendolyn GILLIERON, phd Candidate at Goethe-University Francfort, Germany
In the narration analysis as developed by Fritz Schütze the genre of argumentation has a minor stand in reconstructing biographical experiences. Schütze (1983) himself argues that narrations mainly reflect experiences while argumentations have to be contrasted with narrations to understand their sense for the life story. Further, Riemann (1986) sees argumentations as a result of painful experiences or as a sign that the person has not yet gained some distance of the narrated experience. On the other hand, Bartman and Kunze (2008) show that argumentations can also be a form to express a particular kind of experience.

In my presentation, I will look at biographical narrations of young adults of mixed origin and reflect on the importance of argumentations and their relation to biographical experience. I take up the stance that the use of argumentations by my interlocutors is due to their phase of adolescence (King 2004). In this phase, the young adults experience processes of collectivization (Vergemeinschaftung) and individualization. They are interviewed at a moment when reflections on the self and the positioning in society are most pertinent; this is why, I would argue, they narrate their experiences in the argumentative modus. Arguing from a symbolic interactionist perspective, we could say the interview reflects a discursive positioning where the young adults look at themselves from different perspectives. In this sense, argumentations are not a sign for painful experiences but the most natural form to express themselves at that moment. Here, the interview is used as a space of reflection. It may be the first time that the young adults reflect about themselves and their becoming, and that they try to give a sense to their lives. Thus, the interview itself is part of their ‘biographical work’ (Inowlocki/Lutz 2000). Hence, argumentations can reflect the experiences of being an adolescent.