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Journal Article

Citation

McKenzie-Mohr S, Lafrance MN. Fem. Psychol. 2011; 21(1): 49-73.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2011, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/0959353510371367

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

Narratives and language available within a cultural context reflect and reify power structures that are reproduced in everyday social interactions. In this article, we explore the narrative challenges and possibilities that emerged in our respective research programmes with women who have faced depression or rape. These experiences are, at least in part, products of patriarchy and are regulated by hegemonic discourses that individualize and depoliticize women’s experiences. In our studies, we faced significant challenges of conducting research when dominant narratives fail the storytellers, and came to understand these as products of what Marjorie DeVault has termed ‘linguistic incongruence’. We examine women’s attempts to negotiate the telling of their stories without adequate language and framings, and our attempts to listen carefully to the emergence of counterstories. We introduce the notion of ‘tightrope talk’ to refer to participants’ attempts to make meaning of their experiences, as they negotiate both agency and blame in ways that dominant narratives fail to do. We conclude by discussing the potential dangers of these efforts.

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