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A multiple analyses approach for narrative sociology of everyday life

Narrative sociology is about how people give meaning to their lives and their worlds in and through stories as they are mediated by language. To be able to abstract from individual stories and say something about collective sense making, I have developed a multiple analyses approach. The data are collected in open interviews in which respondents are invited to speak freely about their life in an urban neighbourhood or their work in a school or whatever the subject at hand is. In addition, written documents are collected that provide data from for instance an official policy perspective. Next, three different analyses are performed on the data. The first is an analysis of content or themes that people find important to talk or write about. The second is an analysis of how they position themselves and others in their stories. This analytical framework starts from the narratological model of Greimas, but can easily be extended with more positions if the stories demand so. The third analysis is one of style and rhetoric, founded in literary criticism. This analysis maps how people try to convince the researcher of the truth or value of their stories and therefore indicates how important they are to them. Together, the analyses reveal patterns in how people reason about their world and how they make sense of what happens in there. They display a local logic that guides the perception of events and, in turn, puts forward those events that fit the thus constructed stories. In my paper I’ll first discuss the context of narrative sociology, next I’ll outline this multiple analyses approach and present some patterns that it enabled me to find in research into urban living. I’ll conclude with some discussion points.

Key Words: Narrative sociology, a posteriori sociology, pattern, micro narrative, macro narrative, internarrativity, urban living.

This paper has been accepted for the 6th Global Conference on Storytelling, May 14-16 2014 in Lisbon. It is a chapter in the ebook Not ever absent, which kan be purchased here.