CNR – NOVELLA Research Node Data Analysis workshop 30 March 2015, Institute of Education – by Aura Lounasmaa

NOVELLA 30.03.15 (2) NOVELLA 30.03.15

The last official NOVELLA seminar concentrated on analysis of narrative data. The day was structured into panel discussions and analysis workshops in small groups. Molly Andrews, Julie Brannen, Corinne Squire and Ann Phoenix shared insights into analysing everyday lives from their current research projects.

Participants of the workshops shared their own data for analysing together in groups. This included video clips, interview transcripts, photographs, fabrics and audio clips, expanding our understanding of what makes a narrative. The groups’ findings on one hand echoed the original researchers’ thoughts, but also brought up new insights. Sharing research questions and data also brought up questions of how to analyse and how to present narrative data in academic publications and PhD dissertations. This sharing of experiences gave practical guidance and further resources to colleagues in institutions and departments where support for narrative research isn’t necessarily available.

In her presentation Molly Andrews revisited a twenty-year old research with new interviews, asking herself how ageing features in political identities. Participants were asked to imagine their future ageing. The research saw imagination grounded in in real world: how people think about other possible lives from the ones they are having is directly related to making meaning in their current lives. Imagination always part of how we see the world. Some of the themes that could be evoked from the interview excerpts Molly presented included: ageing as it is present in the imagination of futures; ageing as a lifelong activity; imagining our future selves; coming to see your ageing self through the eyes of others; personal agency as part of ageing: body is challenged but one has a choice how to respond to this; ageing as a gendered process and how ageing relates to the understanding of earlier and present selves.

Julia Brannen talked about her research into intergenerational relationships. Her emphasis was on how field notes become an intrinsic part of understanding data as they contextualise data and constitute a researcher narrative. Her research used photographs as prompts to memory, to generate talk to make meaning, display family life, and bear witness to family’s connectedness. Photos were seen to embody family life and didn’t generate as much discussion as expected, so field notes become crucial. Also, the photos shared by participants were not available afterwards so interviewer needed to remember what was in the photos.

Corinne Squire presented some data from the co-authored research with Heather Elliott on food and family blogs. She spoke of how narratives of the everyday reinforce larger, dominant discourses and practices. Blogs should be seen as authored data (Alstram), act of producing oneself on the internet. The project analysed visual and textual content, thematic progression, comments, responses to comments, and self-representation on the chosen blogs. One important aspect was the narrative co-construction of the blog with actual/imagined audiences. Analysis revealed conflictual everyday narratives across the media.

Ann Phoenix’s presentation in the afternoon discussed studying the everyday through practices (Pink). Re-enactment of practices shows the practice and elicits a narrative of the meanings and past experiences. Her theoretical considerations included looking at how the present brings about a temporal shift in the past. Interviewing the same participant about language brokering for her parents in several occasions over a 15-year period revealed, how traces of memories personalise practices and affects. In the interview excerpts we witnessed how past changes in relation to present and future and non-normative experiences were made into the everyday by constructing stories about it.

After another round of analysis workshops we had a discussion in the room about what was discussed and what we found useful about the exercise. Not only different ways to analyse narratives, the groups identified various ways to define narratives of everyday. Learning from each other how to analyse multiple types of data (video, blogs, fabric, photos, interviews). The event was sold out and created a supportive environment where research could be discussed and debated.


Published by corinnesquire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London

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