The importance of stories untold: Life-story, event-story and trope

Sandberg, Sveinung (2016): "The importance of stories untold: Life-story, event-story and trope" i Crime, Media, Culture.


Stories make harmful actions both plausible and compelling. They provide a lot of what qualitative researchers consider data, but as a discursive form have received only scant attention in criminology. From interviews with imprisoned drug dealers in Norway, this paper identifies three forms of narrative: first, life-stories summarizing and reducing the immense complexity of individual lives; second, stories about particular events such as narrative turning points in life-stories, but also less significant episodes; finally, tropes that only hint at familiar stories. These different narrative forms are crucial in understanding the manifold and central role of stories in society. They can only be understood as part of the interactional context of storytelling, and as proposed by narrative criminology, their effects are essential for understanding crime and harmful action. In this paper I argue that tropes are the most salient forms of narrative. They are indicative of that which ‘goes without saying’, and can be used to identify both ambiguity and hegemonic discourse. In such efforts narrative criminology needs to move beyond interpretation of full narratives, to include reconstruction of stories from tropes.

The article is available here.

Published Apr. 21, 2016 3:27 PM - Last modified Sep. 8, 2016 11:25 AM