The argument uses the proliferating research literature on 'illness narratives' to make a more general analytic point about the proper treatment of narratives and life-stories by social scientists. It is suggested that, notwithstanding earlier commentary and criticism, and despite the sophistication of authors such as Mishler, too many narrative-based studies fall far short of a thoroughly analytic approach to such spoken actions. Too often narratives are celebrated as the means for analysts to gain access to personal experience, to the subjective or private aspects of illness. It is argued that we still need analytic strategies that treat illness (or any) narratives as speech acts, based on socially shared resources.
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