While the study of narratology has a long history, narrative research became a methodology for the study of phenomena in the social sciences in the 1980s. Since that time there has been what some have called a narrative revolution, which is reflected in the rapid uptake in the use of narrative methodology across disciplines. There are diverse definitions of narrative research with different ontological and epistemological commitments, which range from semiotic studies and discourse analysis of spoken and written text, to analysis of textual structures of speech and performances of texts as in narrative analysis, to the relational studies of narrative inquiry where a focus on lived and told experience is central.
Here we attend to narrative research in education rather than only focusing on narrative research embedded in institutions of schooling. Doing this acknowledges that life’s experiences may be educational whether they occur inside or outside of, and perhaps at times in spite of the institutions of schooling. For us education occurs in community, peer group, and family, as well as in vast geographic places and with diverse people. This way of thinking speaks to our understanding of education as reflective of intergenerational linkages and inclusive of anticipated future events, places, and contexts. Education attends carefully to the larger social, cultural, linguistic, familial, and institutional narratives in which schooling also occurs. While there is debate about the ways to engage in narrative research, researchers do agree that narrative research is the study of experience. For narrative inquirers experience is the stories that people live and tell over time, in different places and in diverse and unfolding relationships. Informed by Dewey 1938, Connelly and Clandinin 1990 noted that experience is understood as narrative phenomena. Bruner 1987 furthers our understanding by differentiating between narrative and paradigmatic knowing and in this points out fundamental differences from other research methodologies and ways to understand life. Polkinghorne 1988 added a more nuanced understanding of analytic processes and emphasized the importance of looking at the complexity and wholeness of a life. Since that time scholarly works such as Rosiek 2013 and Clandinin 2007 have articulated the strong link to pragmatist traditions, and have situated narrative traditions more clearly in epistemological and ontological ways. Concepts of relational ethics were first made central in Clandinin and Connelly 2000, while Morris 2002 has differentiated thinking with from about stories as a central aspect.
Bruner, J. 1987. Life as narrative. Social Research 54.1: 11–32.
An important early article that introduced narrative knowing as distinct from paradigmatic knowing. While some of these ideas were present in Bruner’s Acts of Meaning (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), the naming of narrative knowing marked an important shift.
Clandinin, D. J., ed. 2007. Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
First overview of research methods and concepts within narrative inquiry. Important text for social science researchers interested in narrative research and distinctions within narrative research. Introduces concepts of borderlands between narrative inquiry and post-positivist, neo-Marxist, and poststructuralist research. Translated into Korean and Chinese.
Clandinin, D. J., and F. M. Connelly. 2000. Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
First text to outline narrative inquiry as methodology and phenomenon. Widely used to introduce researchers to narrative inquiry. Illustrates narrative inquiry processes as moves from field to field texts to research texts. Introduces relational ethics as well as the importance of narrative beginnings. Translated into Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Connelly, F. M., and D. J. Clandinin. 1990. Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher 19.5: 2–14.
First article that linked narrative to inquiry in an explicit way. Published in a leading research journal, the article signaled narrative inquiry as a research methodology as well as a way to understand experience as a narrative phenomenon.
Dewey, J. 1938. Experience and education. New York: Collier.
Outlines experiential view of experience as life. Often cited as philosophical grounding for narrative inquiry. Introduces Dewey’s criteria of experience as continuity and interaction in situations which are linked to the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space of temporality, sociality, and place.
Morris, D. B. 2002. Narrative, ethics, and pain: Thinking with stories. In Stories matter: The role of narrative in medical ethics. Edited by Rita Charon and Martha Montello, 196–218. London: Routledge.
Introduces distinction between thinking with stories as distinct from thinking about stories.
Polkinghorne, D. E. 1988. Narrative knowing and the human sciences. New York: SUNY.
Brought concept of narrative knowing into developing understandings of narrative research in social sciences. Differentiated narrative analysis from analysis of narratives: The former focused more on contextual and holistic realms in narrative research while latter focused more on the analysis of the texts themselves.
Rosiek, J. 2013. Pragmatism and post-qualitative studies. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 26.6: 692–705.
Significant in this article is the return to pragmatist philosophy and the thinking about practice in relation to narrative. Pragmatist practice, which shapes narrative inquiry research, is related to political action, imagination, and future possibilities.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alternative Schools
- Art Education
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Athletics, College
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Classroom Management
- College Admissions in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Development, Moral
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Gender and Achievement
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- History of Education in the United States
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership Training
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Learning, Service
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literacy, Multiple Documents
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Numeracy Education
- Online Education
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology for Special Education
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Tracking and Detracking
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Women's and Gender Studies