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The Many Distinctions of Narrative Inquiry


While conducting a methodological review of narrative inquiry as a technique to create meaning from heaps of data, both qualitative and quantitative it quickly became apparent that narrative inquiry is a much broader and deeper and diversified field than I originally thought. It is such a rich area that it deserves some detail research in order for me to find the appropriate method to apply to my particular research situation. A cursory review of the literature discovers at least 20 different techniques with various distinctions that are available to the qualitative researcher.

Here is a partial listing of just some of the different strategies and perspectives that a narrative inquiry can offer the qualitative researcher:

*   recording the experience of living the story as it occurs
*   interviewing the storyteller to compare their story with factual data
*   Language experts who analyze the forms and modes of the storytelling independent of content
*   Constructivists looking for methods of sense making and storytelling
*   deconstructionists looking to uncover the textual meaning
*   cultural storytellers looking to integrate storytelling in the larger culture
*   organizational developers comparing the nature of culture to the nature and power of storytelling
*   dramatists interested in the performance aspects and knowledge creation aspects of the act of storytelling itself
*   ethnographers looking to create a rich description of the storytelling environment
*   the Boje school of antenarrative which questions the validity of storytelling and grand narrative as a truth-hiding process
*   pragmatists looking to assess the effect of a change in storytelling style on various dimensions of performance
*   mixed methodists looking to use narrative to infer meaning from quantitative data
*   Post positivists looking to validate storytelling through confirmation by quantitative data

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Categories: education Tags: ,
  1. August 2, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Interesting, maybe that is why most qualitative research is related to some other form of quantitative research. (Or is this another chicken and egg scenario?) I must admit, I have never met anyone who has done a narrative inquiry before, but after reading your “short” article, I can understand why. Most of the qualitative research papers I’ve seen have very specific choices of answers. Anomalies are all lump together as “Others” or “None of the above” etc.

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