Anders Behring Breivik carried out two terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011, killing 77 people. In a 1500-page Manifesto, he justifies the attacks, describes his ideology and presents his life-story. The Manifesto is Breivik’s attempt to present a coherent story, although one that shifts between different, sometimes competing, characters and narrative tones. He relies heavily on the narratives of an anti-Islamic or ‘counter-jihadist’ social movement, mainly present on the internet, but he makes creative adjustments. Some studies emphasize that narratives are unified, others that they are fragmented. Similarly, some emphasize the strategic and others the structural aspects of story-telling. This article further develops a theoretical framework of narrative criminology. The main argument is that offenders’ stories need to be analysed as agency conditioned by culture and context. Such stories must also be understood as attempts at coherency and unity, drawing on a wide variety of cultural narratives and discourses. It is suggested that researchers can benefit from further reflecting on the diversity of ways in which self-narratives are analysed and understood. In line with narrative criminology, it is suggested that when narrative and crime are closely connected, their study gets to the core of the complex causes of crime.

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Sandberg, S. (2013): Are self-narratives strategic or determined, unified or fragmented? Reading Breivik’s Manifesto in light of narrative criminology, Acta Sociologica vol. 56 no. 1, Sage Publications