April 19 2021: Narrative as structure and action – rethinking master and counter-narratives

April 19 2021 

14:15–16:15 UTC+3 (summer time in Tampere)

12:15–14:15 UTC+1 (summer time in London) 

Online seminar, Tampere University


The seminar is organized to celebrate:

  • the 30th Anniversary of the journal Narrative Inquiry & the publication of the Special Issue 1:2021
  • the publication of the Routledge Handbook of Counter-Narratives (ed. by Klarissa Lueg and Marianne Wolff Lundholt)

During the last twenty years, the focus of narrative studies has moved from studying the structure of separate narrative texts to examining narration as action. The study of conversational storytelling and co-construction of meanings in talk-in-interaction together with the thriving positioning analyses provide examples of this gradual change.  The study of counter- and master narratives, however, seems to offer possibilities to study both action (telling counter-narratives) and structure (the existence of master narratives and genres) within the same analytic frame. In surveying this new field, we can ask questions such as:

  • how should the existence of master narratives be documented?
  • are master narratives primarily researcher’s (etic) or language user’s (emic) resources?
  • does the existence of a counter-narrative require explicit ‘speech act of resisting’ (Bamberg & Wippf)?
  • can we understand structures (genres and master narratives) in terms of some kind of ‘structuration,’ that is, as resulting from the previous narrative and other action?
  • what is the relationship between genres and master narratives? 



14.15 Mari Hatavara, Tampere University: Opening words

14.20 Kim Schoofs & Dorien Van De Mieroop, KU Leuven: The negotiation of master narratives through epistemic competitions in interviews with Jewish Holocaust survivors

14.50 Klarissa Lueg, University of Southern Denmark: Bourdieusian practice theory and narratology: conceptualizing (counter)narratives as a means of field struggles

15.20 Matti Hyvärinen, Tampere University: Forging, evoking but not telling master narratives

15.50 Joint discussion


Zoom link for the seminar: https://tuni.zoom.us/j/63369632416?pwd=Q2dvdkZ2R2JvR0p4ams0S2xZVTNzUT09

If a password is required when joining, it is “Action“.




Kim Schoofs & Dorien Van De Mieroop, KU Leuven

The negotiation of master narratives through epistemic competitions in interviews with Jewish Holocaust survivors 

In this talk, we scrutinise the interactionally negotiated identity work of Holocaust survivors and pay particular attention to how the interlocutors draw on their epistemic authority concerning WWII to construct interactional telling rights. In addition, our goal is to uncover the reflexive link between these interactional negotiations and the master narratives in the relevant social context.

On the one hand, we illustrate how the interviewers rely on their historical expert status – as evidenced through their specialist knowledge and ventriloquisation of vicarious WWII narratives – in order to topicalise certain master narratives and thereby attempt to interactionally project particular identities upon the interviewees. In instances where these interactional negotiations culminated in epistemic competitions, the – usually rather ephemeral – Holocaust master narratives circulating in the storytelling world became particularly tangible, as interviewers’ repeated inquiries revealed their knowledge of and orientation to these master narratives. Due to their clearly delineated perception of these master narratives, the interviewers showed difficulty in reconciling their expected narrative with the narrators’ complex and nuanced identity work.

On the other hand, we demonstrate how the interviewees derive their epistemic authority from their first-hand experience as Jewish Holocaust survivors, on which they draw in order to counter the interviewers’ story projections. In particular, both narrators consistently refused to align with the master narratives topicalised by the interviewers and instead constructed counter narratives. These were characterized by a more distinct and complex self-positioning, thus protecting the narrators’ nuanced personal identity work.

Overall, in this talk, we thus illustrate that instances in which interactants’ interactional negotiations culminate in epistemic competitions, bring counter narratives as well as – typically rather elusive – master narratives to the surface, allowing us to more effectively uncover the reflexive link between storytelling and the social context.

Kim Schoofs is a post-doctoral researcher at KU Leuven, Belgium. In her PhD (2020) she explored new ways of uncovering the dialectic relation between the local-discursive construction of identities on the one hand and master narratives in the social context on the other hand. Kim’s main research interests cover identity work in narrative and interactional data, networked narratives on social media and persuasive communication.

Dorien Van De Mieroop is an Associate Professor at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her main research interests lie in the discursive analysis of institutional interactions and of narratives, about which she published more than 30 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, authored a book with Jonathan Clifton and Stephanie Schnurr on ‘The language of leadership narratives’ (2020) and edited a volume with Stephanie Schnurr on ‘Identity struggles’ (2017). She is co-editor of the journal Narrative Inquiry.



Klarissa Lueg, University of Southern Denmark

Bourdieusian practice theory and narratology: conceptualizing (counter)narratives as a means of field struggles 

I attempt at bringing together, within the frame of organization studies, narrative theory and Bourdieusian field theory. In doing so, I provide an overview of organization studies, narrative theory and Bourdieusian field theory, and of how they relate to each other. From here, several methodological and conceptual propositions are being made by the author: First, it is suggested that field and narrative studies can benefit from their rigorous focal points on sociological context variables (structure) and individual accounts (agency), respectively. Second, it is argued that the narrative notion can help tracing how struggles in and between organizations are being carried out and how they impact institutionalized practices (middle-range theorizing). Third, the notion antenarrative field is being introduced and employed as a conceptual tool in exploring how storied ideas travel from one organizational field to another. Fourth, the author proposes that ideas travel hinged on their narrative capital befitting the field’s nomos. I wrap up by suggestion stronger conversion between (post-)Bojean and Bourdieusian theory.

Klarissa Lueg, Associate Professor, Dr.phil.habil., sociologist at University of Southern Denmark. Works conceptually towards bridging narrative and Bourdieusian concepts; empirically studies field narratives and power struggles. Studies published in Academy of Management, Studies in Higher Education, Innovation, Race, Gender & Class; latest book: The Routledge Handbook of Counter-Narratives.


Matti Hyvärinen, Tampere University

Forging, evoking but not telling master narratives 

My claim has been that master narratives do not (at least primarily) exist as articulated narratives, whereas counter-narratives typically manifest as explicit narratives. To study the life course of master narratives, I analyze a case of intentionally forged historical master narrative of “Finland” in the war propaganda between 1939-45. The analysis demonstrates, firstly, that the result of this narrative forging was not a narrative but a list of ideological claims. Secondly, when a “master narrative” exists as a dominant discourse, it is primarily evoked and alluded, not told in the form of a narrative.

Matti Hyvärinen, PhD, is Research Director at the Tampere University, the faculty of social sciences. He has studied the conceptual history of narrative, the narrative turns and is an expert of interdisciplinary narrative theory. He is the coeditor of the volumes Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media. Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds (Routledge 2015), The Travelling Concepts of Narrative (Benjamins 2013), and Beyond Narrative Coherence, (Benjamins 2010). He has published in Partial Answers, Style, Qualitative Inquiry and Frontiers of Narrative Studies, and in several edited volumes, including the entry on narrative genres in the Handbook of Narrative Analysis, edited by De Fina and Georgakopoulou (Wiley, 2015), and the entry Narrative, in the Blackwell-Wiley Encyclopedia of Sociology (2019). He was the PI in the Academy of Finland research project The Conceptual History of Finnish Political Culture (1996-1999) and is the PI of the SA research project Voices of Democracy (2017-2021). He is an editorial board member in Narrative Inquiry and Narrative Works.


Contact: Narrare coordinator Anna Kuutsa (anna.kuutsa(a)tuni.fi).