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Life story talk : Some reflections on narrative in qualitative interviews

Brannen, Julia (2013) Life story talk : Some reflections on narrative in qualitative interviews. Sociological Research Online, 18 (2). ISSN 1360-7804. DOI UNSPECIFIED

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The paper draws on the author's interview experiences and interrogates the conditions in which research interviews generate narratives and storytelling; interviews that do not invite storytelling and interviews where people were asked to give a life story. First, the paper considers the question as to what provokes storytelling. It suggests that people engage with the narrative mode to some extent under the conditions of their own choosing. Second, it examines the processes by which mean making is achieved in storytelling and made sense of by the research analyst. Contrasting two cases of Irish migrants, drawn from a study of fatherhood across three generations in Polish, Irish and white British families, the paper then considers issues of analysis. The argument is made that sociological qualitative research has to engage with narrative analysis and that this involves a close examination not only of what is told and not told but also the forms in which stories are told (the structuring of stories and their linguistic nuances), and the methods by which the interviewee draws in and persuades the listener. Lastly and most importantly, the paper concludes that attention should be made to talk and context in equal measure. It considers the importance of contextualisation of interview data contemporaneously and historically and the methodological strategies through which the researchers create second order narratives in the analysis of their research.

Item Type: Article
Controlled Keywords: Research methods
Divisions: IOE Departments > Departments > Thomas Coram Research Unit
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2014 10:33
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:04
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