On Stories, Conceptual Space, and Physical Place: Considering the Function and Features of Stories Throughout the Narrative Ecology


  • William L. Dunlop
  • Dulce Wilkinson Westberg Orcid


Life stories, or narrative identities, are psychosocial constructions that work to establish a sense of self-continuity through time and across contexts. These stories, which represent a distinct personality domain and assessment paradigm, both inform and are informed by the stories pertaining to constructs within more distal systems (e.g., dyads, households, states, nations, cultures). To this end, we consider the ways in which study of narrative identity may be enhanced by extending the conceptual bounds of its assessment paradigm, to better account for the varied stories within and across these ecological systems. We argue that: a) like narrative identity, stories throughout the narrative ecology function to build and maintain continuity, and b) there are thematic features of narrative identity that transcend divides between these systems including: agency & communion and redemption & contamination. These premises work to focus study of self, society, and story.