Family Stories and Storytelling

Windows into the Family Soul

Authored by: Jody Koenig Kellas , April R. Trees

The Routledge Handbook of Family Communication

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415881982
eBook ISBN: 9780203848166
Adobe ISBN: 9781136946370


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Stories are ubiquitous, taken-for-granted threads in the fabric of our linguistic, cognitive, and relational lives. Humans make sense of life through narrative without even knowing it (Bruner, 1990; Fisher, 1987). Although often everyday, mundane, and repetitive, stories also serve as unique, informative units of discourse and/or modes of thought, sense-making, identity construction, and constitutive talk. Family stories draw people in, teach them lessons, and stay with them long after they've been told. They are at once entertaining and horrifying, sad and hopeful, everyday and far-reaching. They are passed down from generation to generation and pepper the daily or weekly conversations between family members. Family stories help us make sense of, celebrate, and cope with happy and difficult lived experiences. In short, stories are in many ways at the center of daily, communicated family life.

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