Narrative Inquiry As Methodology And Method: Who Is The Researcher And Who Is The Participant?

Year: 2015

Author: Findlay, Yvonne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In a study about how teacher educators express their professional lived experience, the words ‘narrative’ and ‘story’ are used synonymously. The telling of stories is one specific feature what marks humans apart from other life forms on the planet. We read the narratives of our ancient forebears in the cave paintings of cultures across the world. The oral traditions of tribes, mobs, clans and other social groups remind of how our ethnic and cultural heritages have passed from generation to generation. Knowledge and understanding of how different societies work and our relation to the land of which we are a part come from the deep dwelling place of collective memory. Narratives have been and are the international common currency of communication. Narratives span history and cultures and take many forms both written and visual.
Personal reflection is an important process for the narrative inquirer because it helps the researcher become aware of their personal biases and preconceptions about the world of the participants. Early in my research journey as a narrative inquirer, I wrote a brief autobiography. This experience helped me to understand in some way the nature of the task in which I was inviting participants to undertake. As a researcher I also became a participant in the research. It is this juncture that will be explored. The researcher as participant and the participants as researchers into their own experience is an issue that requires further examination. This can be an intense exercise for all concerned and exposes each one, perhaps for the first time, to a close and very personal examination of events and influences which may have had a profound and not always positive affect on their lives. The dichotomy of being both researcher and participant in narrative research is explored in this paper.