Gendered Autobiographical Memory: Feminist Approaches to Theory and Method

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Book Chapter

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Feminist Perspectives on Building a Better Psychological Science of Gender


Self and autobiographical memory are inextricably intertwined. From both cognitive and personality perspectives, theorists agree that who we are is very much defined by our remembered experiences (Conway, Singer, & Tagini, 2004; McAdams, 2001; McLean, Pasupathi, & Pals, 2007), and more and more studies examine autobiographical narratives as reflective as identity (see McLean & Syed, 2014, for a review). Moreover, there is growing awareness of the deeply socioculturally embedded subjectivity of both autobiographical memory and identity (see Bersten & Rubin, 2004, for a review). In this chapter, we take a feminist perspective on current theoretical models of autobiographical memory (Fivush, 2004; Grysman & Hudson, 2013; Nelson & Fivush, 2004) to argue that gender is dynamically expressed in autobiographical narratives in ways that simultaneously create fluid and more stable aspects of a gendered identity. We review the autobiographical memory literature both theoretically and empirically, focusing on how gender is conceptualized and assessed, and end with a speculative model for integrating sociocultural theories of autobiographical memory development with feminist models of gender identity (e.g., Fivush 2000, 2004).


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