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Narrative Analysis

an introduction

Sandra Mathison

on 13 November 2014

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Transcript of Narrative Analysis

Narrative Inquiry
“man is always a teller of stories, he lives surrounded by his own stories and those of other people, he sees everything that happens to him in terms of these stories and he tries to live his life as if he were recounting it.” (Jean Paul Sartre, 1964)
Retrospectively constructing a story of experience
and/or meaning that is purposeful
Finding the story
Using in-depth, semi-structured interviews, images, documents to find "scripts" which can be analyzed to create "stories"

PLOT = schema that creates meaning

Cultural themes: power, good v. evil, greed, thwarted ambition, unrequited love, rugged individualism

Often embedded in fiction, fables, parables, universal stories
Horatio Alger, Little Red Riding Hood, Robin Hood, 1984

Genres: mystery, fairytale, tragedy, comedy, romance

ANALYSIS may focus on what is said (THEMATIC) or how things are said (STRUCTURAL), and sometimes both
life history
Telling the story
Narratives are characterized by:
an element of transformation or change
brought together in a plot line
Donald Polkinghorne
Robert Cole
Jerome Bruner
Charles Taylor
James Gee
Harry Wolcott's
Sneaky Kid

life history
"Brad," a 20 yr old school dropout
living figuratively and literally at the edge
of society
Brad's involvement in school was marginal
and his academic accomplishments modest
education is more than schooling
he bounced "from pillar to post" as a child, but his world view was largely consonant with that of mainstream society
no systematic, constructive educational effort being made to guide, support, or influence the course of an alienated young adult once away from the formal context of the school
“The story reveals the meaning of what otherwise would remain an unbearable sequence of sheer happenings.”—Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times
hegemony of narratives
Gramscian framework
role of political, economic interests
narratives as power relations
Twelve Core Narratives
Personal narratives
1. Coming to terms with AIDS has been difficult for me.
2. I am constantly faced with dilemmas raised by my own mortality.

Interpersonal narratives
1. I feel isolated by being antibody positive; and I've been hurt by others reactions to me.
2. I feel betrayed and robbed of my privacy when my antibody status became known.

Community narratives
1. The medical profession is failing me; it treats me as a second class person and sometimes even avoids treating me at all.
2. The media have over dramatized the negative effects of AIDS.
Viney, L & Bousfield L. (1991). Narrative analysis: A method of psychosocial research for AIDS affected people. Social Science Medicine, 32(7), 751-7.
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