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The Economy Of Narrative Identity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter's approach to the economy of narrative identity rests on the following definition of economy: "the functional arrangement of elements within a structure or system". Then it considers whether this narrative identity system is inflected by economic conditions. In effect, the chapter explores the possibility of a connection between the process of identity formation and the processes defining persons engaged in an economic system. Life writing in its various forms presents the reader with the subject's self as product, as text, whereas in this chapter the author considers self as process. He asks whether economic forces shape the model of individualism that underwrites narrative identity and its representation in life writing. What interests the author in Riesman's analysis is the correlation he makes between particular "character" types and population phases in modern western history.

Keywords: economic system; individualism; life writing; narrative identity; Riesman



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