Belonging through Storysharing®: processes of attunement and reciprocity

Saturday, November 2, 2013
First author:
Nicola C.Grove
Reciprocity & Friendship II

Openstorytellers Limited, Black Swan Arts, Somerset, UK

All authors:

Nicola C.Grove

Narrative, communication, friendship


Storysharing® (Grove & Harwood, 2013) is a narrative intervention programme designed to enable people with severe communication difficulties and those who support them to recall and co-narrate significant experiences.  The aim of the research is to identify some of the mechanisms which contribute to the development of a sense of belonging (Cobigo, 2012) when personal narratives are shared between individuals and within communities.


Two videoed conversations are used to explore the ways in which narrators attune to each other, and respond reciprocally.  Close analysis of the group conversation using an ethnopoetic framework (Hymes, 2010) illustrates the ways in which the story is co-constructed, and patterns of listening, initiating and co-narration which link the speakers.


Results show intricate reciprocal patterns of intonation, gesture, echoed words and phrases. It is argued that such patterns exemplify the ways in which empathy and mutuality are developed between friends and within communities.  


Shared narratives offer a context which is supportive of patterns of mutuality which may lead to the development of connections between people, which is one way of describing a sense of belonging. 


Cobigo, V. et. al., (2012) Belonging: what might it mean to belong Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56, 805.

Grove, N. & Harwood, J. (2013) Storysharing: personal narratives for identity and community.  In N. Grove (Ed.) Using storytelling to support children and adults with special needs.  London: RKP (pp. 102-110)Hymes, D. (2010) When is oral narrative poetry? Generative form and its pragmatic conditions.  Pragmatics, 8, 475-500.