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  • Writer's pictureDé Bryant, Ph.D.

Part I: Story and Signal

Creating the labels social scientists use to describe human experience involves story and signal.  Biography and testimony tell my story, your story, and our story. The language used indicates the storyteller's frame of reference. Testimony breathes humanity back into the science of theory building. It goes beyond simply relating what happened to explain how the storyteller felt about what happened.

 

            The result can be called interiority: recognizing the essential quality of the personal history. It is the understanding that people are more than the sum total of all the economic, social, and political forces that influence them.

 

            Those external forces are the signals we receive from the society around us. The signals are codified; they are social norms, cultural expectations, legal requirements, and moral imperatives. They form a systematic way to understand individual and group interiority by providing the filter through which we process information about the our life experiences. Ultimately, the signals bind our lives into a meaningful whole and give us the yardstick with which to judge our worthiness.

 

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