Narrative analysis is a powerful qualitative research tool. Narrative research can uncover behaviors, feelings and motivations that aren’t expressed explicitly. It also provides rich linguistic data that may shed light on various aspects of cultural or social phenomena.
Narrative analysis provides researchers with detailed information about their subjects that they couldn’t get through other methods. Narrative analysis in qualitative research reveals hidden motivations that aren’t easy to perceive directly. This is especially true in research conducted with cultural subjects where the researcher must peel the many layers of a culture.
Let’s look at how narrative research is performed, what it can tell us about the subject, and some examples of narrative research.
What Is Narrative Research?
Narrative analysis is a form of qualitative research in which the researcher focuses on a topic and analyzes the data collected from case studies, surveys, observations or other similar methods. The researchers write their findings, then review and analyze them.
To conduct narrative analysis, researchers must understand the background, setting, social and cultural context of the research subjects. This gives researchers a better idea of what their subjects mean in their narration. It’s especially true in context-rich research where there are many hidden layers of meaning that can only be uncovered by an in-depth understanding of the culture or environment.
Before starting narrative research, researchers need to know as much about their research subjects as possible. They interview key informants and collect large amounts of text from them. They even use other sources, such as existing literature and personal recollections.
From this large base of information, researchers choose a few instances they feel are good examples of what they want to talk about and then analyze them in depth.
Examples Of Narrative Research
Through this approach, researchers can gain a holistic view of the subject’s life and activities. It can show what motivates people and provide a better view of the society that the subjects live in by enabling researchers to see how individuals interact with one another.
- It’s been used by researchers to study indigenous peoples of various countries, such as the Maori in New Zealand.
- It can be used in medicine. Researchers, for instance, can study how doctors communicate with their patients during end-of-life care.
- The narrative model has been used to explore the relationship between music and social change in East Africa.
- Narrative research is being used to explore the differences in emotions experienced by different generations in Japanese society.
Through these examples of narrative research, we can see its nature and how it fills a gap left by other research methods.
Difference Between Narrative Analysis And Case Study
Many people confuse narrative analysis in qualitative research with case studies. Here are some key differences between the two:
- A case study examines one context in depth, whereas narrative research explores how a subject has acted in various contexts across time
- Case studies are often longer and more detailed, but they rarely provide an overview of the subject’s life or experiences
- Narrative analysis implies that researchers are observing several instances that encompass the subject’s life, which is why it provides a richer view of things
Both tools can give similar results, but there are some differences that lead researchers to choose one or the other or, perhaps, even both in their research design.
Analyzing Results In The Narrative Method
Once the narratives have been collected, researchers notice certain patterns and themes emerging as they read and analyze the text. They note these down, compare them with other research on the subject, figure out how it all fits together and then find a theory that can explain these findings.
Many social scientists have used narrative research as a valuable tool to analyze their concepts and theories. This is mainly because narrative analysis is a more thorough and multifaceted method. It helps researchers not only build a deeper understanding of their subject, but also helps them figure out why people act and react as they do.
Storytelling is a central feature of narrative research. The narrative interview is an interactive conversation. This process can be very intimate and sometimes bring about powerful emotions from both parties. Therefore, this form of qualitative research isn’t suitable for everyone. The interviewer needs to be a good listener and must understand the interview process. The interviewee also needs to be comfortable to be able to provide authentic narratives.
Understanding what kind of research to use is a powerful tool for a manager. We can use narrative analysis in many ways. Narrative research is a multifaceted method that has the potential to show different results based on the researcher’s intentions for their study.
Learning how to use such tools will improve the productivity of teams. Harappa’s Thinking Critically course will show you the way. Learners will understand how to better process information and consider different perspectives in their analysis, which will allow for better-informed decision making. Our faculty will provide real-world insights to ensure an impactful learning experience that takes professionals at every stage of their careers to the next level.
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