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Troubling Method

Narrative Research as Being

Petra Munro Hendry, Roland Mitchell and Paul Eaton

Troubling Method seeks to extract narrative inquiry from method. The shift to a post-humanist, post-qualitative moment is not just another stage in modernism that seeks to "improve" knowledge production, but is a shift to understanding research as an ontology, a way of being in the world, rather than a mode of production. Fundamental assumptions of research: method, data, analysis, and findings are deconstructed and reconfigured as a mode of relational intra-action.

Troubling Method is constructed as a dialogue between the three authors, focusing on their work as qualitative, narrative researchers. The authors revisit six previously published works in which they grapple with the contradictions and ironies of engaging in pragmatist, critical, and feminist qualitative research. After a lengthy introduction which problematizes "method," the book is divided into three sections, each with two chapters that are bracketed by an introduction to the issues discussed in the chapters and then a "dialogue interlude" in which the authors deliberate what makes possible the questions they are raising about method and narrative research. The three sections attend to the central premises of "narrative research as being": 1) relationships, 2) listening, and 3) unknowing.

Troubling Method is ideal for introductory or advanced courses in qualitative research, narrative inquiry, educational research, and those aimed at employing critical theories in qualitative and narrative inquiry.

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Un-Conclusion: Entangling Narrative


We will present no findings, and certainly no steps, recipes, or advice on how to conduct narrative research in the past/present/future. Instead, we offer a series of provocative questions and our current musings, dialogues, struggles, and conversations about narrative not as a method of research, but as situated in a space/time that has “not yet been named” (Denzin, 2013, p. 354). This space defies naming, or should be left unnamed, so as to defy the “death” of naming that is the inevitable consequence of the modernist project of representation. Keeping our ideas/doings/practices in play, letting them “double back” (Denzin, 2013) again and again, never knowing how they will emerge, reconstituting themselves in endless, indeterminate conversings/occasionings are the “being” and “ethics” of our continual troubling of research. We are not sure we need a “new paradigm,” as Denzin (2013, p. 54) suggests, and we want to trouble the potential linear narrative that the “posts” and “new” movements (i.e., posthumanism, postqualitative, new materialist) may fall prey to in suggesting some movement toward better, more robust “methods.” Conceptualizations such as “old” versus “new” and “pre” versus “post” set up dichotomies that are not necessarily conducive to complicated conversations but may do more to shut them down. Alternatively, we propose resituating research as an imaginative, creative, proliferative entanglement that defies naming. Being is research.

We remind ourselves that it is necessary to get in trouble. We’ve been inspired by other troublemakers, like Paul Feyerabend’s (1975) Against Method, John Law’s ← 217...

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