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An Instrument for Reconstructing Interpretation in Life Stories

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes the role of interpretation in the construction of personal identity by assuming that people create their personal identity by constructing a life story. It examines how personal interpretation functions in that life story irrespective of the person's worldview-related background. The chapter transcends the personal level by developing that knowledge at a more universal, abstract, nomothetic level. It outlines a model for reconstructing interpretation in life stories, and deals with the nature of a semi-structured interview. Then, the chapter reflects on an approach, based on narrative and motivation theory, to personal interpretations in everyday life. On the basis of the analytical model the author presents an observation instrument for data collection. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the observation instrument from two angles: its practical applicability to different target groups, and theorizing on religion. For this purpose contingent interpretation of life stories seems to be a promising approach.

Keywords: life story; personal identity; personal interpretation; religion; semi-structured interview



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