What do stories ‘do’?

This question keeps popping up in different places, so it seems like I need to dwell here for a while, look at what is going on and contemplate. On Saturday L referred to Carolyn Ellis (autoethnographer) and her writing on stories; mainly, the ability of stories to stir action. I visited a few of Ellis’ articles on autoethnography in writing my research proposal. I don’t think I made some important connections though, not until M did a final reading of this proposal.
Ellis, Adams and Bochner (2011) refer to the potential for autoethnographies to be political, socially-just and a socially-conscious act. This implies that stories have agency, that they can ‘do’ things. M is always talking about stories and what they ‘do’; Yolŋu and Actor Network Theory perspectives on this also suggest that stories have agency and can perform as powerful actors.
Verran and Winthereik (2012, p. 4) add that ‘Adequate stories are agential in the sense that they “find audiences” and in the sense of surprising, challenging, and offereing something to somebody.’
How might stories of collective acts of being withcountry inform the everyday lives of the reader? Will they hold agency and the potential to intervene in people’s lives?
I could keep writing on this tangent, but I feel like that there is a ‘fish’ that is trying to pop its head up to the surface. For me this blog is a process… at first it was about just starting to write, then developing confidence in my writing… a progression to having a tool that enables me to be reflexive in my research practice.
Even now I feel the need to bring more awareness to my writing process and peel back the layers of reflexivity… I find it interesting that I haven’t yet written about blogging as a process and research practice. I am just ‘doing it’ and keeping silent in these pages the inner critic that so often tells me I am being self-indulgent, boring, uninteresting, irrelevant… blah, blah, blah. Am I still wanting things to look glossy on the surface? Looking good, sounding good, proving myself, being ‘good enough’ and all the other limiting thoughts that I try to keep to myself and pretend that they are not actors in my research – I know the force they exert and how big this gets when I pretend they’re not there.
Ellis, C, Adams, T & Bochner, A 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Historical Social Research, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 273-90.

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