Rescuing narrative from qualitative research

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We review some of the recent trends that have made the collection and exploration of narratives especially prominent among the social sciences. While we acknowledge the significance of narratives in many aspects of social life, we sound a note of caution concerning the popularity of ‘narratives’, and ‘testimony’, not least among ‘qualitative’ researchers. We suggest that too many authors are complicit in the general culture of ‘the interview society’, and are too ready to celebrate narratives and biographical accounts, rather than subjecting them to systematic analysis. In the same way, we suggest that the contemporary fashion for ‘autoethnography’ too often leads to unreflective uses of personal accounts.


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