Building narrative identity: Episodic value and its identity-forming structure within personal and social contexts

Human Affairs 30 (2):281-292 (2020)
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In this essay, I develop the concept of episodic value, which describes a form of value connected to a particular object or individual expressed and delivered through a narrative. Narrative can bestow special kinds of value on objects, as exemplified by auction articles or museum collections. To clarify the nature of episodic value, I show how the notion of episodic value fundamentally differs from the traditional axiological picture. I extend my discussion of episodic value to argue that the notion of episodic value readily incorporates the role of narratives into the construction of identity in personal and social contexts. My main contentions are twofold. First, events or experiences from our personal narratives are episodically valuable insofar as they contribute to shaping our narrative identities. Second, when engaged in a collective action, we write a joint narrative with other participants that confers special meanings on the actions of each participant.

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