Narrative Approach To The Analysis Of Personality In Transitivity


The materials, presented in the article, show that the relationship between sociocultural and personal identity are changing; moreover the personal identity begins to dominate. The changes in sociocultural identity are manifested in the polarization of its structure, in which either the ethnic / linguistic component or the sociocultural component begins to dominate. Thus the revealed specificity of the content of identity in a situation of transitivity, that is, uncertainty, variability and multiplicity, is manifested in the fact that the number of components in the sociocultural and group identity increases, and the importance of the personal component in the overall structure of identity increases. It is shown that the methodological problems in the study of the transitive world are associated not only with the need for continuous evaluation and reassessment of theoretical and research paradigms, but also with the need for constant revaluation and re-interpretation of the obtained materials. The autobiographical narrative is one of the most important characteristics of the person, it helps to understand the word and one-self and to construct links between the person and the culture, between the constant, usual and new and uncertain. The narrative story creates a linguistic structure that makes possible to accept personal meaning and connect it with general culture.

Keywords: Identitypersonalitynarrative approachtransitivity


Identity in transitive world

Transitivity is not only social, external, but also psychological, spiritual concept. Therefore, a large hole is formed between subjective and objective spaces and times, the attitude towards them, and to the changes occurring in them.

It was shown that various characteristics of transitivity are connected with diverse difficulties for the people. Thus, changeability and uncertainty are allied to the violation of the integrity of identity, as its individual components, and temporal perspective. The multiplicity determinates the problem in the process of selection the group of identification and the direction, the space of socialization. The materials obtained in our studies (Martsinkovskaya, 2015) show that the three components of transitivity are extremely difficult to construct adequate models of socialization in a multicultural space. It can be assumed that uncertainty and variability increase the heterochrony of both social and personal space-time in a multicultural rather than a mono-cultural space. Thus, the multiplicity of choices increases the complexity of the situation so much that it largely excludes the possibility of finding rational strategies of personal development.

The relationship between the intension to become the part of the group (society) and, at the other hand, the wish for personalization, become a significant condition for personal growth and development. With transitivity, difficulties are associated with an increase in anxiety and nervous, which lead to intension to “hide from difficulties”, find the shelter in a group (no matter whether large or small), an upsurge of conformity. The contradictory direction is related to the increase of personalization, sometimes connected with conflicts with surrounding world (negativism) and / or downshifting.

These changes actualise the necessity to revise the concepts of identity and socialization and to develop a new methodology and new instruments for the investigation of their content (Andreeva, 2012; Martsinkovskaya & Turusheva, 2017; Martsinkovskaya & Orestova, 2017).

Features of narrative reflection

Despite the fact that the scientific search for mechanisms of narrative meaning formation is far from complete, today it can be argued that narration is a special kind of reflection, possessing a number of specific possibilities.

The most important feature of the autobiographical narrative is the ability of the narrator to distance him-self from experience, to look at one-self or the situation through the eyes of the Other. It is this very feature which allows the narrator to think of him-self as an independent character, to make the life events a matter of scrutiny, to highlight important elements, to build meaningful connections between them, to create a new life story in the place of a destroyed semantic system. Autobiographical narratives focus on that “dizzying” moment when in a person awakens the idea that he can look at himself with interest, but without narcissistic complacency and masochistic self-healing, from the outside.

It is through the narrative that the experience of uncertainty is interpreted as an event. Giving him the status of an event, the narrative highlights some content from the continuous flow of life (any narrative has a distinct beginning and end). Delimitation (or fractality) is the most important constructive feature of a narrative text, and is inextricably linked with structure (Lotman, 1998).

The narrative relates to the memory material selectively: it combines disparate facts, discards the unnecessary, builds parallels, collects memories belonging to events of different times into one meaningful whole. From the point of view of psychology, awareness of the importance of those mental processes that ensure the processing and design of disparate elements, impressions, meanings into a story form inevitably leads to the conclusion that the story can be viewed not only as a compositional device, but as a way of reflection, with specific features. Mink (1987) speaks in this connection of a “configurational understanding of the past,” implying the work of a narrative that binds various elements, striving to establish the maximum number of connections between them, to limit integration. This position, of course, is consonant with the ideas of constructionists about the role of language practices, through which people reflect on the world (Mamardashvili, 1997).

It is extremely important to bear in mind that the narrative is always directed at the addressee. This is not just a description of some events as the author sees them. For the sake of this goal, the narrator splits the story into elements, binds them, interchanges the episodes, builds parallels and semantic symmetries. By such a reconfiguration, the author achieves the construction of intrigue. It is intrigue based on unpredictable plot twists that holds the interest of the reader or listener.

According to Bruner (1991), the autobiographical narrative serves two functions. On the one hand, with its help, we present ourselves to others (and to ourselves) as typical representatives of culture. Our actions, intentions, desires become understandable within the framework of everyday concepts essential to the world in which we live. On the other hand, if we were limited only by the notions of culture, we would remain only its mirrors. Bruner believes that to ensure individuality, we focus on what is exceptional (and therefore worthy of telling it). The requirement to tell something interesting is carried out through narration, in which canonical and non-canonical are recognized. And what makes it interesting is exactly what goes against the expected or leads to an unexpected result. Lotman (1998) also insisted on the same thought. The plotless text, in his opinion, asserts some traditional sustainable world order. The plot is a “revolutionary element” in relation to the “picture of the world”.

Thus, in a narrative there is always a conflict between the definite and the indefinite, the predictable and the unpredictable. The paradox of the narrative is that, on the one hand, it sets up a system of peculiar cultural orientations (including moral order), on the other hand, it questions the established norms, shatters ideas about them.

Of course, the autobiographical narrative tells of the unique experience and personal meanings of the narrator. Nevertheless, narration always implies the listener, the person to whom the narrator addresses. The story, thus, builds a linguistic structure that allows you to grasp the personal meaning and "fit" it, focusing on the listener, in the general cultural field.

Problem Statement

Speaking about the development of personality in modern society, it is necessary first of all to analyze the challenges that people face in the modern world. Such an analysis can and should be the basis for the development of a new methodology for the study of person. It seems that the main challenge and the main problem facing us is the problem of identity in the transitive world.

Research Questions

It can be assumed that in the current situation the content of identity will be associated with self-presentation in its real and virtual forms.

New methodological constructs can be represented as open gestalts and one of the elements of such structure is the narrative approach.

Purpose of the Study

  • Analyze changes in the content of identity.

  • Work out the new methodological constructs and reveal the possibilities of a narrative approach.

Research Methods

In the process of work were used the psychological-philosophical method of comparative analysis, hermeneutic and comparative analysis.



Speaking about the features of identity in a transitive, continuously changing world, it must be sate that the question of identity has always been realized in the minds of scientists in periods of breakdown, crisis, uncertainty, which arise questions about what standards, value orientations and etalons will be in request tomorrow, how norms and rules of behavior will be transformed. These problems, turning into inner, personal plan, put at the forefront the main question - what will happen to a human being, whether he will save the wholeness of the personal identity in new situation.

The modification of the socialization’s process, the separation of the process and the result (socialization) is connected with the variations in the ratio of personal and social identity. This is due to, first of all, the fact the balance of identities that in a transitive society is an unstable characteristic, constantly shifting to one side and then the other. That’s why it is often, especially with a wide fan of the possibilities of choosing a group of identity, that the personal and not social component dominates. A person gets the chance to create a group based on his ideas about the significant and corresponding to his individuality features. So, in such group social identity is almost identical to the personal one. Internet communication and network societies also inspire the creation of new connections between personal and social identities, which are associated not only with real, but also virial groups. Analyzing identity from such position, it can be stated that with the development of Internet communication leads to the increase in the sphere of imaginary and virtual identity. The role of self-monitoring significantly increases, which gives a person the opportunity not only for self-categorization, but also for self-presentation, demonstration of both real and imaginary qualities, whose existence is proved not in real interaction, but in the story about oneself.

Therefore, in the modern condition and in modern contacts, it is forming the phenomenon of narrative identity. We can see, that very often in interpersonal contacts are dominating the stories and even legends about one-self, but we can’t prove it be some actions, including group activity. This fact is directly reflected in the game of identities - the ability to try one-self in different masks, different roles. This fact helps to understand both- roles and rules, and, what is more important, one-self. We can also see that the network groups, on the one hand, provide an opportunity for flexible and positive socialization; on the other hand, they help to find different variants of a “game” with their own identity.

When finding-creating a group of identity (both real and, especially, virtual), self-confirmation of invented (or appeared in the “game”) personal characteristics occurs, and the traditional bundle categorization - self-categorization is transformed into self-monitoring self-confirmation.

The significant fact is that in a situation of changes and uncertainty, the integrity of identity is connected with culture, and not with the continuity of life cycles. This represents the concepts of linguistic and sociocultural identity. Enculturation, adoption and assumption of culture are one of the significant points determining the success of socialization in new conditions. Native culture, language remains unchanged in a changing world. Therefore, enculturation provides the rootedness and constancy necessary in today's life, which is perceived by many as fractured and uncertain. It is a culture that is emotionally perceived as a whole, which makes it possible to find footholds in a changing reality and restore the lost integrity of the perception of the world and of oneself. Speaking about the role of language in the development of identity, it is necessary to remember that in this case the concept of language is used in the broadest sense and cannot be identified with speech. At the same time, the concept of linguistic form contains primary psychological content, similar to the modern narrative approach, which treats a person as a text.

The combination of two lines of development - socialization and individualization, leads in the current situation to the emergence of different options for sustainable subcultures, in which a new balance of personal and social identities is realized and formed.

Methodology: a new approach

New trends and new phenomenology of development in a situation of transitivity leads to the need to realize the connection of psychology with other areas of knowledge about a person. Interdisciplinary and multi-paradigm in science are affected primarily by the fact that new categories arise, as well as new relationships between them that are not included in the old categorical grid.

In modern methodology, categories not only can change and modernize their content. The most important is the fact that new links are built up connecting, for example, the categories of socialization, identity and crisis, which in the traditional scheme are included in different sections of the categorical matrix. It seems that the classical matrix principle of their connection is outdated and does not reflect either new categories that hardly fit into the original matrix, or their interrelations among themselves, especially when it comes to categories originating from different areas of knowledge.

The new transitivity methodology is actively supporting the revision of the old approach to the construction of a categorical structure. In addition to the fact that the matrix principle does not reflect the dynamics and diversity of modern categories, it comes, with varying degrees of rigidity, from the level connection of different concepts in a single category. However, modern categories are interconnected more challenging than it seemed before and are not always clearly divided into levels. Therefore, the traditional matrix principle of constructing an invariant that implies a clear hierarchy, but not interconnection and development, should be complemented by other options.

Apparently, the network principle of organizing categories is more appropriate for modern science. This approach makes it possible to see both their relationship with each other, and the laws and trends in their development and interconnection, and also opens up the possibility of embedding new categories into the existing network. The network principle also shows the multidimensionality of the categorical structure.

Considering that the development of psychological science implies the emergence of new terms and concepts, the advantages of the network, rather than the matrix approach, is manifested in the fact that the empty space in the matrix is ​​perceived as a pass, as an empty space that must be filled (for example, the periodic table). In principle, positive is the fact that, with the correct extrapolation of known information, such a “hole” can stimulate search activity in the right direction and the discovery of new information, as in the same table of elements of Mendeleev. However, on the other hand, when expanding the field of research, such an approach may, on the contrary, stereotype searches. At the same time, a new segment in the category grid should not necessarily be considered as an “empty space”, but rather as a designation of the tendency for its expansion in a certain direction, the most relevant, for example, at this stage of development of psychological knowledge.

Transformations occurring in the psychology of personality prove the urgent need for a methodology of modern psychology, creating a flexible and easily transformable network of categories and research constructs that can study various aspects of the psyche, changing them and changing with them. Thus, it can be argued that modern paradigms are distinguished by permeable boundaries and the possibility of restructuring, that is, it is not a closed standard of a particular school, but an open form.


The current situation of transitivity dictates the need to develop and use a new methodology and new methods for studying identity, which makes it possible to obtain materials that reveal the specifics of identity in a new sociocultural context.

The variability of a person’s development and preservation of one’s own identity under transitivity is associated, on the one hand, with the ability to withstand the pressure of the social environment or its dependence on it (the ratio of socialization-individualization processes) and activity — passivity (degree of intentionality and structuring of motives), on the other.

It can be assumed that a person is able to focus not on one, but on several strategies of behavior or to combine them. At the same time, the main criterion is the possibility of preserving the congruence and the adequacy of the self-image and world-image and their correlation and consistency. In this regard, we can state the significance of the individualization of the development process, which implies a high intentionality and variability in the choice of implementation.

Thus, the formation of identity in the transitive world is characterized by a simultaneous increase in the number of components in the sociocultural and group identity, and an increase in the importance of the personal component in the overall structure of identity. Such a mixed, complex nature of identity is evaluated as a factor that increases tolerance for uncertainty, contributes to positive socialization and socialization in conditions of social transitivity.

A narrative can be viewed as a cultural practice that involves constant change, updating of cultural norms. This becomes possible thanks to the connection formed by the narrative between the unique, unexpected, that runs counter to cultural norms and the system of already existing meanings. A narrative can thus be viewed as a tool for self-renewal and cultural development.

Grasping of the narrative form allows a person to understand that uncertainty is an integral part of our life. Moreover, a narrative allows a person to be prepared to a certain extent to the challenge of uncertainty that an event entails, that is, in other words, to be ready for its comprehension and for the possibilities opening together with the new meaning.


The study was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project 17-06-00077-OGN\18


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14 July 2019

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Martsinkovskaya*, T., Orestova, V., & Turusheva, Y. (2019). Narrative Approach To The Analysis Of Personality In Transitivity. In T. Martsinkovskaya, & V. R. Orestova (Eds.), Psychology of Subculture: Phenomenology and Contemporary Tendencies of Development, vol 64. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 373-379). Future Academy.