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Narrative Inquiry

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ISSN 1387-6740
E-ISSN 1569-9935

Narrative Inquiry is devoted to providing a forum for theoretical, empirical, and methodological work on narrative. Articles appearing in Narrative Inquiry draw upon a variety of approaches and methodologies in the study of narrative as a way to give contour to experience, tradition, and values to next generations. Particular emphasis is placed on theoretical approaches to narrative and the analysis of narratives in human interaction, including those practiced by researchers in psychology, linguistics and related disciplines.

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  • Life Story Coherence and its Relation to Psychological Well-Being
    • Authors: Dana Royce Baerger, and Dan P. McAdams
    • Source: Narrative Inquiry, Volume 9, Issue 1, 1999, pages: 69 –96
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    • Over the past few years, the concept of coherence as it applies to people's storied accounts of their lives has become an increasingly popular topic. However, theories of coherence have been slow to appear, and a comprehensive definition of the construct has yet to be presented by researchers. Moreover, almost no work has been done relating the concept of coherence to the particular form of the life story. Thus, the aims of the present study were twofold: first, to investigate whether it is possible to construct a reliable coding scheme for life story coherence, and second, to examine the relationships between life story coherence and mental health. The results of the study indicate that the life story coherence coding system is a reliable measure, and that the coherence construct is therefore amenable to quantitative analysis. The most important finding of this study was that, as predicted, life story coherence demonstrated a statistically significant relationship to psychological well-being. This finding thus lends statistical credibility to the claims of narrative psychologists, who argue that mental well-being is related to, if not the result of, a well-integrated and coherent life story.
  • Thinking big with small stories in narrative and identity analysis
    • Author: Alexandra Georgakopoulou
    • Source: Narrative Inquiry, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2006, pages: 122 –130
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    • Narrative research is frequently described as a rich and diverse enterprise, yet the kinds of narrative data that it bases itself on present a striking consensus: they are autobiographical in kind (i.e., about non-shared, personal experience, single past events). In this paper, I put forth a case for under-represented narrative data which I collectively call (following Bamberg 2004a, b; also Georgakopoulou & Bamberg, 2005) “small stories” (partly literally, partly metaphorically). My aim is to flesh small stories out, to urge for the sort of systematic research that will establish connections between their interactional features and their sites of engagement and finally to consider the implications of their inclusion in narrative research for identity analysis (as the main agenda of much of narrative research). I will thus propose small stories research as a “new” narrative turn that can provide a needed meeting point for narrative analysis and narrative inquiry.
  • Stories: Big or small: Why do we care?
    • Author: Michael Bamberg
    • Source: Narrative Inquiry, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2006, pages: 139 –147
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    • This article is a pledge that we actually should care about the differences between what has recently been coined ‘small’ versus ‘big’ stories because they represent very different approaches to narrative inquiry. In the attempt to pull other contributions of this special issue into the debate between small and big, I argue that the small story approach is able to theoretically and methodologically enrich traditional narrative inquiry — not in a peaceful, complementary fashion, but by more radically re-positioning big story approaches as grounded in dialogical/discursive approaches such as small story research.
  • Rescuing narrative from qualitative research
    • Authors: Paul Atkinson, and Sara Delamont
    • Source: Narrative Inquiry, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2006, pages: 164 –172
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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.
  • The hermeneutics of faith and the hermeneutics of suspicion
    • Author: Ruthellen Josselson
    • Source: Narrative Inquiry, Volume 14, Issue 1, 2004, pages: 1 –28
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    • Ricoeur distinguishes between two forms of hermeneutics: a hermeneutics of faith which aims to restore meaning to a text and a hermeneutics of suspicion which attempts to decode meanings that are disguised. In this paper, his distinction is applied to interpretive stances in narrative research. From the point of view of a hermeneutics of faith, the interpretive effort is to examine the various messages inherent in an interview text, giving “voice” in various ways to the participant(s), while the researcher working from the vantage point of the hermeneutics of suspicion problematizes the participants' narrative and “decodes” meaning beyond the text. Examples are offered of narrative research from each point of view and the implications of working from each stance are explored. Each interpretive position also effects both reflexivity and ethics, and these matters are also discussed. Finally, the implications and possiblities of combining these interpretive positions are considered. (Hermeneutics, Ricoeur, Narrative Analysis, Interpretive Stance, Reflexivity)
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