"I could go work in a factory, but this is something I want to achieve": Narratives into social action

18 Dec 2009

This paper is conceptually informed by a reading of Peter McLaren's work (1993). Drawing on the relationship that he signals between identity, narrative, and social action, it sets out to examine the ways in which identity shapes narratives of academic performance and consequent action. Speci®cally, I present the narratives of academic performance of a social grouping within a cohort of preprimary teacher education students. These students are all women, historically classi®ed `coloured' and of working class origin. Argument is presented that students interpret and reconstruct their personal histories and particular social locations through the material and discursive contexts to which they have access. The students are presented as active agentsÐ producing themselves within existing, and often potentially contradictory, material and discursive contexts. Evidence is marshalled to frame an argument that students' narratives shape their social action as agents of history, and are implicated in the distribution of privilege within society.