The actors in young women's childbirth narratives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In this article, I want to analyze how the women in their accounts of their experiences describe and characterize the participating actors. The women present narratives in which each one of the actors is assigned a specifi c role. A narrative about a childbirth experience can be analysed as a “childbirth drama”, where the events are recounted as if they took place on a stage and the actors take on certain roles (Goffman 1959). Even if the description of the experience of giving birth to a child can be interpreted as a self-presentation, the woman narrating her experience is not alone on the stage. What other actors do we encounter in the narrative, who is the woman giving birth said to co-operate with and how is the interaction between these actors recounted? How is a new entry onto the stage described? To what roles are the actors assigned - and when do these roles change in the narrative? What part does corporeality play in this context? What insight into the discursive context of the narrative – in this case the discursive field of childbirth – does such an analysis render?

In this article I am particularly concerned with how the narrators themselves choose to present the actors and the interaction between them. My theoretical points of departure are Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical approach focusing on drama, stage and roles (1959) and Katharine Galloway Young’s model of the relationship between narrative, narration and conversation (1987).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNarrating, Doing, Experiencing
Subtitle of host publicationNordic Folkloristic Perspectives
EditorsAnnikki Kaivola-Bregenhöj, Barbo Klein, Ulf Palmenfelt
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherFinnish Literature Society
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-858-063-1, 978-951-858-064-8
ISBN (Print) 978-951-746-726-1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameStudia Fennica Folkloristica

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