In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Narrative Analysis

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews and Methodological Sources
  • Individuals’ Stories and Life Histories
  • Identity and Political Psychology
  • Organization Studies
  • National Narratives, Legitimacy and Change
  • Political Movements and Social Change
  • Narrative in Political Communication and Public Persuasion
  • Discourse and Storytelling in Everyday Life
  • Narratives and Conflicts
  • Analytic Narratives
  • Narrative and Collective Memory
  • Narratives in Environmental Studies
  • Master, Dominant, and Counternarratives
  • Narratology and General Theories of Narrative
  • Lexicons and Dictionaries
  • Journals

Political Science Narrative Analysis
Shaul Shenhav
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0324


One may plausibly assume that the current academic interest in narrative research stems from a growing awareness that human beings are by their very nature storytellers, and that the stories we make become part of who we are, be it as individuals or groups. Indeed, narrative analysis has gained wide ground in many fields of the humanities and social sciences. This bibliography article is intended primarily for students and scholars of politics, but it can be of use for readers and researchers from other disciplinary backgrounds in the social sciences. While political scholars may not be among the pioneers that embraced “the narrative turn,” the connection between politics and narratives is of very long standing. A common reference in this regard is Plato’s discussion on the education of the guardians in the third book of his Republic. For all that, scholars and students of politics who wish to get acquainted with seminal works in narrative research should venture beyond political science into literature studies, sociology, communication, linguistics, historiography, psychology, and many other fields. In fact, the leading approach to systematic study of narratives, known as “narratology,” was developed mainly by literary scholars and is yet to be adapted to questions salient to politics. Therefore it is only right that scholars who wish to engage in narrative study should be able to familiarize themselves with works outside their particular field of expertise. Even a cursory overview of the use of narratives in political science reveals a wide diversity of epistemological and ontological trajectories. The reason is that narrative analysis in political science does not emanate from a preexisting tradition or stream of research, but rather is based on an adaptation of various narrative elements to address an array of questions related to that discipline. Moreover, the variety of assumptions regarding the concept of narrative, manifested in other disciplines, is typical of political studies as well. Such a plurality of definitions and concepts makes the review of selected narrative studies a veritably daunting task. Given the rich, broad, and diverse contents, issues, and methodologies addressed and utilized by scholars who apply narrative analysis in political science, organizing the body of narrative research into clear-cut sections and avoiding overlaps is not always feasible. It is possible, however, to map main trends in the study of narrative analysis in political science. This bibliography begins with a General Overviews and Methodological Sources section. The next several sections largely proceed from studies that emphasize individual perspectives, to research targeting groups and national states, to examinations of the international arena. Several subsequent sections cite mainly investigations concerned with theoretical issues regarding the use of narrative approaches in the political domain. The concluding section comprises a list of fundamental methodological sources and journals relevant for scholars interested in narrative and politics.

General Overviews and Methodological Sources

Notwithstanding the variety of narrative research and views regarding the notion of narrative itself, several sources can be identified that provide general conceptual and theoretical overviews on the roles of narratives in the social or the political domains. Of these, Czarniawska 2004, Elliott 2005, Franzosi 2010, Herman and Vervaeck 2019, Riessman 2008, Shenhav 2015, and Squire, et al. 2014 are methodologically oriented, while two edited volumes, Andrews, et al. 2013 and De Fina and Georgakopoulou 2015, broadly survey subjects and forms of narrative research. Patterson and Monroe 1998 provides an influential introductory analysis focusing on the importance of narrative in the study of politics. Sources included in this section are not confined to a particular type of data or research questions. The issues they cover, however, are all central to the study of narrative in the social sciences and at the same time are relevant for political science, including the definitions of narrative and story, and the complex relationships between a narrative and “real life.”

  • Andrews, Molly, Corinne Squire, and Maria Tamboukou, eds. Doing Narrative Research. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2013.

    An edited book that affords a broad view of narrative research in light of its multidisciplinary nature. The book introduces the reader to a plurality of avenues to pursue a narrative inquiry.

  • Czarniawska, Barbara. Narratives in Social Science Research. London: SAGE, 2004.

    The book begins with a review of “the narrative turn” in social studies in which the author refers to foundational texts on narratives in humanities and social sciences. The book is structured around the various uses of narrative and narrative analysis in social sciences. Among the questions discussed are ways in which stories can be made, collected, interpreted, and analyzed. Examples to illustrate the arguments are often taken from the author’s own work.

  • De Fina, Anna, and Alexandra Georgakopoulou, eds. The Handbook of Narrative Analysis. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2015.

    This edited volume is a compilation of narrative scholarship in a sociolinguistic perspective. The editors present this collection as a sequel to their earlier joint endeavor (see De Fina and Georgakopoulou 2012 under Discourse and Storytelling in Everyday Life). The rich array of narrative works included in the book serves the editors’ agenda of focusing on discursive and sociocultural contexts.

  • Elliott, Jane. Using Narrative in Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. London: SAGE, 2005.

    This is an introduction to the use of narrative methods in social science. The author eschews the exclusively qualitative perspective typical of many scholars in the field, and elaborates on assumptions and methods of both qualitative and quantitative narrative analysis.

  • Franzosi, Roberto. Quantitative Narrative Analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010.

    Relying on narratology and linguistic theories of narrative, as well as on a variety of works on the concept and form of narratives, the author proposes and develops a method of quantitative narrative analysis (QNA).

  • Herman, Luc, and Bart Vervaeck. Handbook of Narrative Analysis. 2d ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2019.

    This is the second edition of the handbook, which encompasses both classical and postclassical narratology. Some of the topics covered in the postclassical section (chapter 3) are of direct relevance to scholars of politics (e.g., rhetorical, feminist and queer, and cultural narratology).

  • Patterson, Molly, and Kristen R. Monroe. “Narrative in Political Science.” Annual Review of Political Science 1 (1998): 315–331.

    This article is among the earlier recognitions of narrative analysis as a viable methodological tool in modern political science. It discusses narrative as both a concept and a methodological tool.

  • Riessman, Catherine K. Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2008.

    An overview of qualitative narrative research, with focus on the use of narrative analysis in interviews. The book centers on thematic, structural, performance, and visual narrative analysis.

  • Shenhav, Shaul R. Analyzing Social Narratives. New York: Routledge, 2015.

    An adaptation of narratology to social sciences. The book discusses the three classical elements of narrative—text, story, and narration—and develops the idea of multiplicity as a fourth element crucial for applying narrative analysis in social sciences. It suggests that scholars distinguish between a “thin” and a “thick” level of analysis and orient their research accordingly.

  • Squire, Corinne, Molly Andrews, Mark Davis, et al. What is Narrative Research? New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.

    This book introduces narrative research in social science, illustrating the wide range of narrative methods across diverse topics. Scholars of politics might find a special interest in Chapter 4, entitled “Narratives in Social Research: Researching Narratives, Power and Resistance,” especially the section “Narratives and Politics” (pp. 66–71).

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