“I got the impression that people who went to the pub had horns and a tail”: Narrative inheritance and intergenerational learning about alcohol in families
|Starts:||14:00 13 Mar 2019|
|Ends:||14:00 13 Mar 2019|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
|Speaker:||Dr Laura Fenton|
As sociologists of kinship have argued, families are 'mnemonic communities': they are brought into being through the creation, telling and re-telling of memories and family stories. Family members transmit and reproduce shared versions of the past. Though these versions of the past are invariably contested and edited, they nevertheless influence people's understandings and conduct in the present. As McNay points out with her notion of “narrative inheritance”, children often inherit their parents’ narratives, and experience elements of their parents’ childhoods as dimensions of their own pasts. Moreover, connections across generations are made and remade over time through acts of memory and storytelling. Intergenerational stories about alcohol are no exception. Drawing on life history interviews with 38 women conducted for my doctoral research, this presentation explores how family stories about avoiding or moderating alcohol use are shared across generations. I argue that family stories provided some participants with narrative orientations that highlight the negative and possibly addictive nature of alcohol. Within their families of origin, these participants 'inherited' narratives about alcoholic relatives, usually grandparents. I investigate how these participants have taken on their parents’ childhood memories as facets of their own pasts, and consider the resonances of these narratives in how they approached alcohol at later points of the life course.
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