You are here

Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences

Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences

First Edition

December 2007 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"Cathy Riessman is the leading figure in narrative research and her new book is a delight. Covering basic issues of transcription and research credibility as well as visual data and engagingly written, it is a goldmine for students and researchers alike. If we want to make narrative research serious and revealing, it is to this book that we should turn."                      
—David Silverman, Professor Emeritus, Goldsmiths' College, University of London

"Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences provides an accessible framework for researchers — to analyse narrative texts with confidence, empathy, and humility.

"This is a terrific book. Cathy Riessman has an encyclopedic knowledge of this field and of the participants in it. This breadth and depth of knowledge is abundantly clear throughout the book."
—Susan Bell, Bowdoin College

"This book has been a great source of inspiration to me and my students, not only for its methodological clarity, but also for the spirit of social activism it engenders."
—Ian Baptiste, The Pennsylvania State University

"Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences is an essential starting point for both students and experienced researchers interested in using narrative analysis in applied or other contexts. Written with admirable clarity, an engaging style, and supported by detailed examples of analysis, the book outlines the main methodological issues and approaches within the exciting and fast-developing field of narrative research. Even researchers already familiar with narrative methods should find the presentation of thematic, structural, dialogic/performance, and visual forms of analysis a fruitful stimulus to new research endeavours."
—Brian Roberts, University of Central Lancashire, U.K.

"I just had to thank you for paving the path for us new and 'hopeful' narrative researchers. I have been a student of both your books on narrative analysis, and want to thank you for your guidance from your work, and also your latest book Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. This work and the references you have chosen for us have helped me immensely during this time in my doctoral program, especially as I enter into the analysis phase."
—Maria T. Yelle, nursing doctoral candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences provides a lively overview of research based on constructing and interpreting narrative. Designed to improve research practice, it gives a detailed discussion of four analytic methods that students can adapt. Author Catherine Kohler Riessman explains how to conduct the four kinds of narrative analysis using model studies from sociology, anthropology, psychology, education and nursing. Throughout the book, she compares different approaches including thematic analysis, structural analysis, dialogic/performance analysis, and visual narrative analysis. The book helps students confront specific issues in their research practice, including how to construct a transcript in an interview study; complexities of working with materials translated from another language; defining narrative segments; relating text and context; locating oneself as the researcher in a responsible way in an inquiry; and arguing for the credibility of the case-based approach.

Broad in scope, Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences also offers concrete guidance in individual chapters for students and established scholars wanting to join the "narrative turn" in social research.

Key Features

  • Focuses on four particular methods of narrative analysis: This text provides specific diverse exemplars of good narrative research, as practiced in several social science and human service disciplines.

  • Offers guidance for narrative interviewing: The author discusses the complexities between spoken language and any written transcript. In the process, she encourages students to be mindful of the texts they construct from dialogues among speakers.

  • Presents arguments about validation in case-based research: Riessman presents several ways to think about credibility in narrative studies, contextualizing validity in relation to epistemology and theoretical orientation of a study.

  • Explores the differences between grounded theory methods and narrative analysis: The author clarifies distinctions between inductive thematic coding in grounded theory, and other interpretive approaches, and narrative analysis.

  • Presents social linguistic methods for analyzing oral narrative: This text makes the approach accessible to readers not trained in social linguistics in part by providing rich examples from a number of different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.

  • Employs visual methods of analysis: Riessman takes narrative research beyond the spoken or written texts by showing how exemplary researchers have connected participants' words and images made during the research process. She also discusses other research that incorporates "found" images (in archives) in a narrative inquiry.

This text is designed as a supplement to the qualitative research course taught in graduate departments across the social and behavioral sciences, and as a core book in the narrative course.

Looking Back, Looking Forward
Constructing Narratives for Research
Thematic Analysis
Structural Analysis
Dialogic Performance Analysis
Visual Analysis
Truths and Cautions

Excellent resource for this developing edition to qualitative methods.

Ms Jane Harris
Midwifery and Reproductive Health, Universtity of Chester
March 20, 2014

This book is essential reading for anyone doing narrative research at MA and EdD level. I liked the chapters which explores separately the different approaches to analyse the narratives.

Ms Eva Mikuska
Deapartment of Childcare, Social Work and Social Care, University of Chichester
February 25, 2014

This is a wonderful book; however, it was not quite what we needed.

Mrs Karen Cunningham
Theatre Communication Dept, San Antonio College
December 9, 2013

Provides a solid overview - could be focused more on politics/IR for my course but it will be on my reading list.

Dr Michael Barr
School of Geography Politics Sociology, Newcastle University
December 6, 2013

An excellent text for those both new to and more experienced in narrative research methods. Clear explanation of techniques and excellent summaries which distinguish, in some detail, the distinctions between narrative and other qualitative approaches.

Dr Michael Hartill
Sport & Physical Activity, Edge Hill University
November 21, 2013

For the students in my PhD-level qualitative research courses who choose to do narrative studies, this text is a favorite for its conceptual clarity and practical suggestions.

Dr Judith Harris
School Of Education, College of William & Mary
October 29, 2013

Very well written book and I came away understanding a lot more clearly what narrative research was about!

Ms Lynne Marsh
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork (NUI)
July 24, 2013

A sound text to illustrate the value of this approach to research

Mrs Gillian Bishop
Department of Management & Marketing, Huddersfield University
July 1, 2013

Reissman is a seminal text for anyone wanting to know more about narrative research. She gives insight into different methods of collecting and analysing data using her own and others experiences. There are plenty of references for further reading

Jan Stosiek
School of Health and Social Care, Bournemouth University
April 11, 2013

A good, well written and digestible overview of a range of narrative approaches - the perfect first port-of-call for students interested in exploring this approach.

Mr Simon Bishop
Science, Technologyand Health, University Campus Suffolk
March 13, 2013
Key features
  • Takes a comparative approach to interpreting similarities and differences among participants' narratives to enhance the reader's ability to analyze multiple narratives
  • Provides detailed advice about how narrative can be used in applied practice settings, such as education, nursing, social work, clinical psychology, etc.
  • Offers annotated excerpts of narratives to show readers how to code the transcripts

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

Rent or Buy eBook
ISBN: 9781483360188

ISBN: 9780761929970

ISBN: 9780761929987