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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 II (Paul William Eaton)


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Introduction to Section II


There is a dog barking—somewhere in vicinity close enough for me to hear, the dog is speaking some experiential truth into the world. The dog is disrupted, voicing pleasure or displeasure, perhaps seeking attention or sending greeting. As one who can “hear” with my ears, the quietude of my writing times make me particularly attuned to sound(s). The creaking of a settling house; the rain pit-pattering on the roof; a chirping bird; the hum of electricity whirring through lights and electronic devices; the metronomic whirring of the ceiling fan.

As scholars and researchers we should be considering this question: to what should we be listening? In much of narrative research, and perhaps qualitative research more broadly, we often center the “human voice.” What precisely voice “is,” or how it is “captured” and then “(re)presented” has been debated among researchers for some time (Jackson & Mazzei, 2008; Krog, 2005; Perakyla & Ruusuvuori, 2005). We often center human voice in anthropocentric research due to particular beliefs about our ontological existence as humans. Among these beliefs are ideas of human agency. Voice—the centering of particular voices, “giving voice” to those not traditionally heard, and the idea of collective or many voices—well, these ideas are all fundamental to an ontological experience that centers the individual human, or collective human societies, as well as particular ideas about the importance of identity,...

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