The Primacy of Narrative Agency: Re-Reading Seyla Benhabib on Narrativity
© The Author(s) 2017
The central claim of this article is that narrative agency, which I will define as a subject’s capacity to make sense of herself as an ‘I’ over time and in relation to other ‘I’s, is a precondition for identity formation. I engage with two critiques of this claim: first, that narrative agency is limited by, rather than primary to, subordinating gender norms and, second, that a view of narrative agency as primary is committed to too ambitious a conception of the communicability of narratives. I argue that the narrative model survives these two criticisms by emphasising its irreducibility, its inherent relationality and its generative potential. I then suggest some of the ways in which a concept of narrative agency might help feminist critical theory to posit mutual recognition and respect as productive criteria for progressive self and social transformation.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from SAGE Publications via the DOI in this record.
Published online 23 August 2017