Narrative approaches have gained popularity as a way to understand the construction and development of political identities over a person’s life span. However, little is known about how lifetime activists remember and make sense of different types of political experiences. To overcome this gap, this study aims to explore thematic and structural features of the narratives of lifetime activists about political experiences (O1), as well as examining differences in these features according to the type of experience described and the life stage at which the event narrated occurred (O2). Forty political activists aged 65 years or older were invited to explain a positive event, a negative event and a turning point in their political participation. The motivational themes, affective themes, themes of integrative meaning and structural elements of the narratives were analysed. Results show significant variations in these narrative features according to the type of political experience described and the life stage at which the event narrated occurred. Our study adds to the previous literature on political identities showing that, far from being monolithic, lifelong activists’ narratives about political experiences show significant variations according to these two features. Overall, the structural variations that we found in lifetime activists’ narratives about political experiences largely mirrored previous literature on general autobiographical narratives. This means that, regardless of whether life stories are general or domain-specific, their structural characteristics and the variations they show by life stage and type of narrated events are largely similar.
Serrat, R., Villar, F., & Chacur-Kiss, K. (2023). Narrating political participation: How do lifetime activists remember their political experiences? Memory Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/17506980231176042