Roads not taken: A narrative positioning analysis of older adults' stories about missed opportunities
The point of departure for this article is narrative gerontology’s conceptualization of life as storied and the assumption that identity development and meaning making do not cease at any age, but rather continue throughout life. We suggest that if identity construction is considered to be a lifelong project, narrative gerontology would benefit from applying analytical perspectives focused on the situated activity of narration. In this article, we apply a three-level positioning analysis to segments of interviews with two elderly Sami women concerning missed opportunities or roads not taken and, more specifically, to narrations about missed opportunities for education. We argue that such narrations should not necessarily be considered expressions of regret or processes of reconciliation but rather as pivotal in here-andnow identity constructions. Narrations about missed opportunities demonstrate that what narrators choose to insert into their life stories is chosen for a purpose and for an audience in a specific interpersonal and discursive context. We suggest that narrative gerontology would benefit from a broader focus on the diversity of sites of engagement in which older adults perform identity constructions. This shift implies moving beyond traditional studies of older adults’ life stories and biographical narratives as related in the context of qualitative research interviews (of which the present study of Sami older adults’ life stories is indeed an example).
Accepted manuscript version. Published version available at http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2015.08.009