Books and Articles on Narrative Inquiry

Narrative Studies

Ahmed, A. (2015). Retiring to Spain: Women’s narratives of nostalgia, belonging, and community. Policy Press An exemplary study with superb application of narrative theory and methods. Ahmed integrates social science and literary theory to provide a fine-grained analysis of women’s stories. (Please see my review in the April, 2016 issue of The Gerontologist.

Carpenter, L. & Emerald, E. (2009). Stories from the Margin: Mothering a Child with ADHD or ASD. Post Pressed. Conducted in Australia, this study is embedded in an ethic that calls on research to be of direct benefit to vulnerable populations. Chapter 1 offers a detailed description of the methodology. I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews are excellent. You’ll find them here:

Carpenter, L., & Austin, H. (2007) ‘Silenced, Silence, Silent: Motherhood in the margins’, Qualitative Inquiry, vol.13, no.5.660-674. Here’s an article based on the same study. It’s a terrific read. I like their description of how they created space for stories, “we designed the interview space to give women a moment to stop the action, tell their story and reflect.” Bordieu’s ideas are introduced and applied beautifully.  

Carpenter, L., & Austin, H. (2007) ‘Silenced, Silence, Silent: Motherhood in the margins’, Qualitative Inquiry, vol.13, no.5.660-674. This one looks promising too! 

Dillon, L. (2011). Writing the self: the emergence of a dialogic space. Narrative Inquiry, 21(2), 213-237. There’s so much to appreciate in this article that I don’t know where to begin; which puts me in a position similar to Lisette Dillon’s respondents (young, “gifted” adolescents) when she told them to simply be themselves in the dialogic space she created. First off, the method: Dillon engaged young people in an email exchange that allowed them to reflect on their complex, multiple selves before an attentive listener. Then there’s her analytic approach: she read the “email journals”  with an eye (or ear) for their multiple (sometimes competing) voices.Then there’s Dillon’s nuanced treatment of identity as a “project of self construction.” Finally, I was relieved to learn (in her reference to Hermans, 2003) that other people’s inner voices sometimes descend into cacophony. How nice to have company!

(See also: Dillon, Lisette (2012) Email as an arena for authoring a dialogical self among gifted young adolescents: a qualitative study. International Journal for Dialogical Science, 6(2), pp. 1-33.)

Green, W., Hibbins, R., Houghton, L., & Ruutz, A. (2013). Reviving Praxis: Stories of continual professional learning and practice architectures in a faculty-based teaching community of practice. Oxford Review of Education, 39(2), 247-266. (available at: – A great example of narrative methods and beautifully written! Wendy Green and her colleagues in Australia collected stories from their colleagues in a teaching-community of practice. The results are intriguing, and the construction of the piece just brilliant. Stories were analyzed in a  two-phase process: the first, identified common themes, and the second considered the distinct types of stories told by new-comers vs. old-timers. But my favorite element is their elegant treatment of what researchers commonly call “limitations.” Must quote it here:

We acknowledge the situatedness of our study, and that further discussion needs to be seen in this light. Nevertheless, a number of implications can be drawn from the study, if it is considered in the context of the current literature, which enable us to extend our findings beyond the specific community of practice studied here. (p. 261)

Maynard-Moody, S. & Musheno, M. (2003). Cops, Teachers, Counselors: Stories from the Front Lines of Public Service. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Fundamental to the narrative approach is its ability to recognize dominant narratives and to tease out counter narratives. This study is accomplishes both very effectively. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the research team set out to collect the stories of policemen, middle-school teachers, and vocational rehab. counselors (48 in all). They read deeply, and identified two contrasting narratives: the state-agent narrative, and the citizen-agent narrative. The first, dominant, discourse holds that rules, policies, and procedures govern decision-making by street-level public servants. The second, which of course the authors (and the reader) find much more interesting, holds that public servants make moral judgments about the individuals before them and base their decisions on those judgments. For those who are judged “deserving” the result is an advocate who will go above and beyond, even to the extent of challenging policy, to help out. But woe be to those deemed “unworthy” by a public servant. The book is compelling and very thorough in its presentation. To me, it emphasizes the need for a diverse workforce that looks much like the clients it serves. It could also sensitize public service professionals to this tendency, thereby helping them avoid its more destructive elements (racial profiling, for instance).

Other Things Narrative

Booker, C. (2004). The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories, New York: Continuum. This book is helpful for placing respondents’ stories in a broader literary context. Plots include: Overcoming the Monster, The Thrilling Escape from Death, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, and Tragedy – with variations on these themes.

Zeeman, L., Aranda, K. & Grant, A. (2013). Queer challenges to evidence-based practice. Nursing Inquiry. DOI: 10.1111/nin.12039.

Alec Grant wrote of this article, “It situates narrative  as a counter-hegemonic methodological approach,” It does this, and a good deal more. This piece is complicated (and lovely). It notes that, “The path leading to truth is saturated by silenced voices, ” then integrates queer theory and evidence-based practice using a rhizome metaphor emphasizing the deeply entangled nature of knowledge.Along the way, the article touches on Foucault:  “. . . discourses bring into material being the bodies they claim to describe,” an observation with great resonance for many of us. It touches on Derrida’s disdain for binaries, and captures the explosive, liberating potential of queer theory (alas no mention of Friere) “Binary oppositions or dualisms in rupture are like drawing a line of flight.” (Great image!) But here’s my favorite: the article reminded me that queer is a verb, as in “to queer,” which means “to thwart” or, as these authors put it, “To queer is to open up the normative base of evidence-based practice and to trouble and expose the working of power relations. . .” Let’s do. Let’s queer the normative bases of power relations wherever we find them!

Zeman, L., Aranda, K. & Grant, A. (Eds)(2014). Queering Health: Critical Challenges to Normative Health and Healthcare. Herefordshire, UK, PCCS

My review of this book appeared in the International Journal of International Social Work. You can access it by clicking here.

Narrative Practice

Bell, Lee Ann (2010). Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting narrative and the arts in anti-racist teaching. Routledge.  (Creating counter-narratives to address racism in the U.S. Sounds interesting!)

Bambert, M. & Andrews, M. (Eds). (2004). Considering Counter-Narratives: Narrating, Resisting, Making Sense. John Benjamins.  A collection of articles and commentary on counter-narratives. This volume illustrates the challenges of definition that arise when researchers and activists lay claim to the notion of counter-narrative.

Narrative Research Methods

Bell, Anne (2003). A Narrative Approach to Research. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education.8(1), 95-110. (An interesting article for two reasons: her use of the first person to describe the research process, and her thoughtful definitions of key terms: narrative, storyline, metaphor. The study blended methods, using narrative as a “sensitizing concept.”)

Blumenfeld-Jones Donald. “Fidelity as a Criterion for Practicing and Evaluating Narrative Inquiry.” Life History and Narrative. Eds. J.A. Hatch and R. Wisniewski. London: Falmer, 1995.

Borins, S. (2011). Governing Fables: Learning from public sector narratives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. (A classmate of Larry’s at Harvard, Borins, per the flyleaf, “applies narratological theory to public management and politics.” Interesting approach.)

Carter, Duncan and Sherrie Gradin. Writing as Reflective Action.

Clandinin, D.Jean and F. Michael Connelly. (2000). Narrative Inquiry: Experience and Story in Qualitative Research.

Clandinin, D. Jean (Ed) (2006). Handbook of Narrative Inquiry: Mapping a methodology. Sage Publications.

Cowling, W.R. (2008). An essay on women, despair, and healing: A personal narrative. Advances n Nursing Science, 31(3), p. 249-58.

Czarniawska, Barbara (2004). Narratives in Social Science Research. Sage Publications. The first chapter is available for free online. It provides an excellent brief history of narrative analysis and a useful typology of narrative research.

Fraser, H. (2004). Doing Narrative Research: Analyzing personal stories line by line. Qualitative Social Work, 3, 179-201. (This one’s really good!)

Gubrium, J.F. & Holstein, J.A. (1998). Narrative Practice and the Coherence of Personal Stories. The Sociological Quarterly, 39(1), 163-187. An excellent articles that aims to provide “an analytic vocabulary for describing the practical production of coherence in personal stories.” It gives clear examples and in-depth discussion of key concepts such as: narrative ownership, footing, reflexivity,slippage, linkages, and coherence. A must-read for anyone beginning a narrative study.

Herman, D. (Ed.) (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hermann, Marie-Luise (2007). Narrative gerontology: Survey of current literature and research. Psychotherapie und Sozialwissenschaft: Zeitschrift fur Qualitative Forschung. 9(1), 7-32.

Hollway, W. & Jefferson, T. (2000). Doing qualitative research differently: Free association, narrative and the interview method. London: Sage. Written by researchers from the UK, the book offers a distinct approach that takes into account (equally) the narratives of researcher and interviewee. They call for data analysis that doesn’t fragment the text but focuses on the whole, noting links and contradictions; and for privileging free-association over coherence.

Jones, K. (2008). Narrative Matters: The power of the personal essay in health policy. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 19(3), p. 1011.

Jones, R., Latham, J. & Betta, M. (2008). Narrative construction of the social entrepreneurial identity. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 14(5), p. 330.

Josselson, R, Leibich, A.& McAdams, A. (2003). Up close and personal: The teaching and learning of narrative research. Available online.

Josselson, R. & Liebich, A. (1995). Interpreting Experience: The narrative study of lives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Laszlo, J. (2008). The Science of Stories: An introduction to narrative psychology. Longon: Routledge.

Knudson, R.M., Adame, A.L., Finocan, G.M. (2006). Significant dreams: Repositioning the self narrative. Dreaming, 16(3), 215-222.

McAdams, D.P., Josselson, R., & Lieblich, A. (eds.)(2006). Identity and Story: Creating self in narrative. APA Books. (Part of a series called “The Narrative Study of Lives.”)

Pagnucci, Gian. Living the Narrative Life: Stories as a Tool for Meaning Making.

Pratt, M.W. Arnold, M.L., & Mackey, K. (2001). Adolescents’ representations of the parent voice in stories of personal turning points. In McAdams, D, Josselson, R., & Lieblich, A. Turns in the Road: Narrative studies of lives in transition. American Psychological Association. (Part of a series called “The Narrative Study of Lives.”)

Phoenix, C. & Sparkes, A.C. (2008). Athletic bodies and aging in context: The narrative construction of experienced and anticipated selves in time. Journal of Aging Studies. 22(3), p. 211.

Randall, W.L. & McKim, E. (2008). Reading our Lives: The poetics of growing old. NY: Oxford University Press.

Reissman, C. (2008). Narrative methods for the human sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reissman, C. & Quinney, L. (2005). Narrative in Social Work: A critical review. Qualitative Social Work, 4(4) 391-412. This article outlines standards of “good” narrative research: preparation of detailed transcripts, and analysis that addresses language, narrative form, and purpose. They offer 3 exemplars, and speculate on why the “narrative turn” has resulted in relatively little social work research in the U.S. compared to the U.K. Very useful piece.

Runyan, W.M. (1982). Life Histories and Psychobiography: Explorations in Theory and Method. New York: Oxford University Press. (A classic by my mentor in the study of individual lives.)

Rutten, K., Mottart, A., & Soetaert, R. (2010). Narrative and Rhetoric in Social Work Education. British Journal of Social Work, 40, 480-495. (They used Burke’s theory of dramatism to analyze fictional narratives with SW students. Very interesting!)

Swenson, C.R. (2012). Dare to Say “I”: The personal voice in professional writing. Families in Society, 93(3), 233-239. DOI: 10.1606/1044-3894.4213. (A terrific article that argues for letting our selves be present in our scholarly writing.)

Wells, K. (2011). Narrative Inquiry (Pocket guides to social work research methods). New York: Oxford University Press. (An excellent resource for social workers!)

Wengraf, T. (not dated) Guide to The Biographic-Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM). He’s at London East Research Institute, University of East London, UK.

Wenner, J.A., Burch, M.M., Lynch, J.S., & Bauer, P.J. (2008). Becoming a teller of tales: Associations between children, fictional narratives, and parent. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 101(1). P. 1.

Westerhaus, M., Panjabi, R., & Mukherjee, J. (2008). Violence and the role of illness narratives. The Lancet. 372(9640), p. 699.

Wiessman, C. (2007). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Sage Publications. (An inexpensive paperback — chock-full of material. Excellent resource!)


Anderson, L. (2006). Analytic Autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 373-395.

Berger, (2001). Inside Out: Narrative autoethnography as a path toward rapport. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(4), 504-518.

Chang, Heewon (2008). Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Clough, P.T. (1997). Autotelecommunication and autoethnography: A reading of Carolyn Ellis’s Final Negotiations. Sociological Quarterly,

Duncan, M. (2004). Autoethnography: Critical appreciation of an emerging art. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. Retrieved 1 July, 2009 from

Ellis, C. (1999). Heartful Autoethnography. Qualitative Health Research, 9(5), 669-683.

Ellis, C. (1997) Evocative Autoethnography: Writing Emotionally About Our Lives. In Tierney, W.G. & Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds). Representation and Text: Reframing the narrative voice. New York: SUNY Press

Ellis, C. (1997) Evocative Autoethnography: Writing Emotionally About Our Lives. In Tierney, W.G. & Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds). Representation and Text: Reframing the narrative voice. New York: SUNY Press.

Ellis C., & Bochner, A.P.(2006). Analyzing analytic autoethnography: An autopsy. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35, 429-449.

Grant, A. & Zeeman, L. (2012). Whose Story Is It? An autoethnography concerning narrative identity. The Qualitative Report, 17, 1-12. (This article offers a beautiful presentation of auto-ethnography that resists (even as it reveals) oppressive master narratives. It clearly elucidates other key constructs: backstage stories, narrative neglect, narrative entrapment, privileged meaning and subjugated meaning.)

Humphreys, M. (2005). Getting personal: Reflexivity and autoethnographic vignettes. Qualitative Inquiry, 11(6), 840-860.

Meneley, A. & Young, D.J. (2005)(Eds). Auto-ethnographies: The anthropology of academic practices. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press.

Muncey, T. (2005). Doing autoethnography. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 4(3), Article 5. Retrieved 1 July, 2009 from

Pelias, R.J. (2003). The academic tourist: An autoethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 9(3), 369-373.

Pratt, M.W., Arnold, M.L., & Mackey, K. (2001). Adolescents’ representations of the parent voice in stories of personal turning points. In McAdams, D.P.,Josselson, R., & Lieblich, A., (Eds). Turns in the Road: Narrative studies of lives in transition. American Psychological Association.

Reed-Danahay, D.E (1997) (Ed). Auto/ethnography: Rewriting the self and the social. Oxford: Berg,

Roth, W.-M. (2008) (Ed). Auto/Biography and Auto/Ethnography: Praxis of Research Method.

Sparkes, A.C. (2001) Autoethnography: Self-indulgence or something more? In Bochner, A & Ellis, C. (Eds) Ethnographically Speaking: Autoethnography, Literature, and Aesthetics. Alta Mira Press.

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