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Identity, memory and narratives as distributed phenomena in a social network: working with former minors of a governmental institution

Grant number: 17/24107-0
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 20, 2018
Effective date (End): June 03, 2019
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology
Principal researcher:Marcos César Alvarez
Grantee:Veridiana Domingos Cordeiro
Supervisor abroad: Andreas Glaeser
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Chicago, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:16/16472-7 - Memory and identity in narrative of two groups of former internals of an institution for children, BP.DR


This project aims to solve central challenges of my PhD. project. The general goal of the PhD project is to understand and to explain the imbrication of memory and identity based on the analysis of narratives of individuals, who grew up in a governmental institution for minors that were abandoned or had legal issues. Decades later, the former interns met each other via Facebook, then sharing narratives on their past both online and in annual meetings. In this way, in this subproject we seek to understand how the online shared narratives about the past struggle for identity's construction and affirmation. The daily amount of data conveyed between these individuals entails a methodological and even technical issues. A partial outcome showed us that through the Internet, the process of recollection is much more complex than the process verified in the individual autobio-graphical interviews because it is supported by objects (i.e. photographs) and encompasses the interaction between individuals dynamically changing across time. As the internet works as a repository, it allows to track this timely dynamics, generating a reasonable amount of data. The number of the growing contents and relations of this living data requires computing process techniques (such as the processing of textual data as well as network analysis) that needs to be related with a broad and conscious theoretical discussion. Our sociological interpretation of memory and identity does not take position neither at micro nor at macro. We argue for a conception of identity and memory that preserves the individual perspective that should be supported by social elements and interactions and that should be minimally intelligible according to the point of view of others. This idea matches with a "processual approach", classically developed by the figurational sociology and further developed by other authors that added sophisticated elements to it, such as the time dynamics. That is the case of the "consequent processualism", a theoretical and methodological approach developed by Andreas Glaeser (2005). In general, we could say that Glaeser conceives social life as a complex version of a dynamic network. That is, a network of intersubjective relationships that change over time because of a set of actions and reactions that can transcend space and current time, thus generating future unforeseen consequences. Glaeser calls that as "projective articulations", which inevitably bring changes to social formations through time. Thus, we may consider the construction of memory and identity as necessarily inseparable phenomena and as examples of social formations that also suffer from projective articulations. This theoretical approach lead us to a methodological position that seeks to extract from the social reality more than extended ethnographical descriptions, rather elaborate broader relations and consequences from the case studies that allow us to return to the theory in order to improve and re-elaborate it. (AU)