This thesis presents a study concerning the narrative identity (and associated ‘identity work’) of four leaders working within Sure Start Children’s Centres, these being integrated, multi-professional services established in England for children aged 0-5 years and their families. Specifically, it asks questions regarding the relationship between narrative identity and professional practices for these individuals, and examines ways in which they establish, maintain and deploy their narrative identities. To investigate this topic, a narrative and hermeneutic theoretical lens is presented that draws upon and adapts the work of Paul Ricoeur (1981, 1983/1990, 1990/1994, 2005). The resulting study uses a methodology that is consistent with this framework, and employs innovative visual and participative elements in detailed work over time with participants. Findings of the study are presented in four themes that emphasise the dynamic, connected, diverse and social character of narrative identity for participants. Here, narrative identity is discussed as something established over time, through successive ‘cycles’ of talk and action. Further, the study establishes the ways in which particular patterns and structures within narrative identity facilitate or constrain this development. Participants’ narrative identity is discussed as existing within an ecosystem of narratives, each having a range of functions which complement relatively stable narrative identity. Finally, these narrative identities are presented as social projects, which involve others in the processes that come to define and legitimise them. The thesis therefore emphasises the complex relationship between narrative identity and professional experience and practice for participants in the study. As a result, professional narrative identity is understood as a practical and philosophical project, and the thesis opens up lines of enquiry for further study within the early years sector and beyond.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - Apr 2015|