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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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Introduction to Section I (Paul William Eaton)


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Introduction to Section I


Even as we begin the quest for unpacking and troubling narrative research, we are telling a story. Each of us—Petra, Roland, and Paul—has a particular relationship to narrative(s), through our lived experiences and research trajectories that brought us to a questioning of narrative as method. One version of the story flows, unfolds, or is conveyed as follows: qualitative methods emerged within educational research in response to overt positivism and postpositivism. As methods proliferated, narrative inquiry became one approach for opening space to the untold stories of communities, educators, and students, about the educational enterprise. Narrative opened an imaginative space, where stories of the “other” would and could be highlighted. These stories would complicate our understanding of educational experience along lines of identity and through the perspectives of communities. The result would be more egalitarian, democratic, equitable, and justice-minded educational practices. Or, to put it differently, narrative inquiry would allow us to examine people’s relational experience to education, to uncover the “truths” of what was occurring in educational experience(s), and in uncovering particular stories we might “fix” education.

This story of emancipation, democracy, and educational progress emanates from cultural stories, particularly in the “West.” One is our story of control. Humans believe that we have evolved into nature’s preeminent position. We are ← 45 | 46 → the top of the great chain of being. We have individual agency to make...

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