Working-Class Children's Experience through the Prism of Personal Storytelling

Special Report: The Social Differentiation of Children
By Peggy J. Miller, Grace Cho, Jeana Bracey, Wilfried Lignier

Framed within recent developments in gender theory, this paper examines personal storytelling as practiced by working-class children and their families. Although both working-class and middle-class children encounter versions of oral storytelling that embody a personal perspective, these versions privilege different slants on experience. Drawing on a program of research that spans several decades and two European American working-class communities, we attempt to characterize the working-class perspective in its own terms, not simply as a departure from a middle-class standard. We conclude that the working-class perspective encourages children to see that they have the right and resources to narrate their own experiences in self-dramatizing ways, but that the right to be heard and to have one’s point of view accepted cannot be taken for granted.

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