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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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2. Narrative Inquiry: Stories Lived, Stories Told (Roland W. Mitchell)


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Narrative Inquiry

Stories Lived, Stories Told


Narrative inquiry, the study of experience as story, is first and foremost a way for thinking about experience. Narrative inquiry as a methodology entails a view of the phenomenon. To use narrative inquiry methodology is to adopt a particular view of experience as phenomenon under study.

Connelly and Clandinin, quoted in Clandinin and Rosiek (2007, p. 38)

The comments of narrative researchers Jean Clandinin and Michael Connelly in this section’s opening quote illustrate both the epistemic (ways of knowing) nature and the ontological (ways of being) possibilities associated with the stories that we tell about our world. Throughout history the ability of these stories to shape meaning has been immeasurable. Numerous scholars, linguists, philosophers, and cultural workers in general have attested to the ways that communicating a shared understanding through stories is a social process and an essential building block for establishing a community (Bakhtin, 1981; Barthes, 1968/1977; Derrida, 1980; de Saussure, 1916/1983). Further, the stories we tell and identify with are constantly in flux, malleable, negotiated, and highly contested. From competing tales of ancient biblical events in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew to more contemporary stories concerning the end of the Cold War and present East-meets-West global relations, the significance associated with the power relations structured ← 63 | 64 → into the stories we tell about ourselves and our world cannot be overstated (Delpit...

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