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Family Ties: Communicating Identity Through Jointly Told Family Stories

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Family stories work to construct family identity. Little research, however, has examined storytelling in families. This study examined storytelling content and process to assess the extent to which families jointly integrated or fragmented a shared sense of identity and how these discursive practices relate to family qualities. Results of a study involving 58 family triads indicate relationships between story theme (e.g., accomplishment vs. stress), person referencing practices (e.g., we-ness vs. separateness), and interactional storytelling behaviors (e.g., engagement, turn-taking). Moreover, story framing, perspective-taking, statements about selves-in-the-family, and identifying as a “storytelling family” emerged consistently as positive predictors of family satisfaction and functioning. The results offer a portrait of how families communicate identity and functioning in joint storytelling interactions and further position storytelling as a communication phenomenon worthy of consideration.

Keywords: Family Communication; Family Functioning; Family Storytelling; Identity; Narrative

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2005


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