Narrative Research and Ethnography

Published: 2022-12-15
Narrative Research and Ethnography
Essay type:  Narrative essays
Categories:  History Human resources Research Personality
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1790 words
15 min read

It cannot be understated that fields with an extensive scope often requires the application of different types of research methodologies when being explored. Two of these methodologies are narrative research and ethnography. Narrative research is a term that is used to indicate the various group of approaches that also rely on the spoken or written words and visual representation of individuals. It focuses on the lives of individuals as informed by their own stories (Hibbert et al., 2014). The emphasis in these approach in on the story and it depend on what and how it is narrated. On the other hand, ethnography is where a researcher spends an extended amount of time in a given society or culture in a bid to discover more about the human experience (Mertin, 2014). The purpose of this research paper is, therefore, to attempt to come up with a clear distinction between these two research methods and to establish the various data collection methods that are used to gather data in the field during the data collection process.

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It is important to note that many qualitative researchers view questions as the starting point for their research. Once proper questions have been drafted, a study can then begin. Research questions always fulfil this function. It is true that the right questions do not necessarily produce excellent research, but it cannot be denied that poorly drafted questions can create problems that can affect the whole study process. Therefore, qualitative research questions need to clearly articulate what a researcher wants to know about the intentions and perspectives of people involved in social interactions (Creswell & Poth, 2017). The research intended to answer the following questions.

1. How is narrative research conducted?

2. What is the relationship between narrative research and ethnography in terms of results achieved or research intention?

3. How is ethnography conducted in terms of data collection?

It is worth noting that in quantitative research, the role of the researcher is non-existent theoretically. In such cases that involve comprehensive qualitative studies, participants act independently of the researcher as if he were not involved. In qualitative studies, however, the role of the researcher is different from other research methods because the researcher is considered as an instrument of data collection. This should mean that data is facilitated through this human instrument in the named researcher and not through inventories, machines or even questionnaires. To be able to fit or fulfil this role, research consumers should know about the research human instrument. In this case, the researcher needs to describe relevant aspects regarding himself, including any assumptions and biases, experiences, and expectations to qualify his capability to carry out the research.

In addition to the above, the researcher should be able to explain their role as an insider who is a full participant in the program, activity, or phenomenon or if he will act as an outsider in the research. However, there could be variations as a given researcher can commence as an outsider and then becomes a member and part of the group and the reverse can be applied where the researcher starts as a member and later becomes objective observant.

Notably, a good qualitative researcher should be able to ask his audience probing questions, listens carefully, thinks critically, and then once again asks more probing questions to get to deeper conversation levels (Creswell & Poth, 2017). Their role is, therefore, in addition to the ones stated above should build a picture using ideas and theories from a wide variety of sources.

Narrative methods are considered as an appropriate measure when real life issues are being investigated. In a basic approach, narrative research involves the study of the experiences of an individual embracing stories of life and exploring the educated importance of those individual experiences. It is set out by the validation of the audience (Hibbert et al., 2014). It should be remembered that it is an essential section of social science investigation, even though it may not always stand for evidence and support for the report concludes. Firstly, the researcher will identify a problem to explore. This will give the basis of the study. Then, he will select one or more participants to study. This is because many narrative kinds of research examine single individuals even though several individuals may be studied. The third procedure is that the researcher will collect the story from the participant either through interviews, conversations, or field texts. The next stage is retelling the individual's story by identifying key elements, examining key data among others. Another important process is the collaboration with the participant to ensure that the experience of the storyteller is portrayed accurately. The next process involves writing a story about the experience of the participant. Finally, the researcher validates the report accurately to help preserve the story.

In looking at the design of ethnography in addressing the third research problem, it should be noted that the firsthand involvement of the researcher with the participant is essential to ethnography, and this is always personal approaches to the study process (Mertin, 2014). Ethnographic researchers require a deeper self-reflection while it is allowed for a narrative researcher to approach their informants as an objective observant. Just like in narrative research, the process of conducting ethnography involves the following; firstly, the problem to be discussed is formulated (Hibbert et al., 2014). The second stage is the selection of a research setting which involves knowing where the research will be carried out. The third procedure is gaining access to the group, which involves presenting oneself where the researcher avails himself to those in the field. Finally, the researcher gathers and records the information obtained. Finally, the paper addressed the question of the relationship between the two methodologies. It should be noted that these two methodologies are both necessary because they achieve the same objective of giving a voice to those whose stories might have been wrongfully portrayed in history or missing.

The qualitative design that was selected was appropriate because by looking at the two qualitative methods, ethnography and narrative research helps to understand the values, feelings, as well as perceptions that recognize and influence behavior, it also helps to identify the needs of different people as well as that of the whole community in general (Creswell & Poth, 2017). Finally, the methodologies used helps to develop methodologies for further testing for quantitative questionnaire development thereby helping to come up with a detailed report of the study.

Data collection strategies

In narrative research, the extreme focus is placed on studying an individual and essentially gathering data through the compilation of stories and reporting a single person experiences and presenting the significance of such experiences for the person. Conversely, ethnography majorly focuses on comprehensively explaining a particular cultural group. Collection of data in narrative research is hinged on participant's memories of past events and also the secondary sources such as artefacts and journal entries among others (Hibbert et al., 2014). The following are some of the data collection strategies used in narrative research and ethnography; storytelling, oral history, memorabilia, restorying, participant observation, career histories, projective devices and key informant interviewing.

Story-telling: In using many stories, the researcher is provided with an opportunity to understand the participant's experiences deeply. It is always the normative part of the data collection method.

Oral history: In this method, data is collected by asking the participants to share their past experiences. Notably, there are two ways of developing oral histories. That is; using annals and conducting the interview using both structured and unstructured protocols

Memorabilia: Photos, artefacts, and newspapers are some of the memorabilia used by the researcher to help bring out facts about the participant's life.

Re-storying: This involves the researcher gathering stories from the participants and analyzes critical elements about the story in terms of place and time and rewrites the story to have some chronological sequence.

Participant observation: This is one of the primary techniques used by ethnographers to access data. In this method, the researcher lives among the subjects being investigated and takes an active part in participants' daily activities.

Career histories: In this method, the life narratives of people are elicited which are then used in the formulation of research questions about the cultural foundation of the people.

Projective devices: Participants' reactions and emotions can be elicited through drawings, photographs and this enables the investigator to establish social interaction.

Key informant interviewing: In this method the researcher solicits for information from individuals who possess special knowledge and communication skills and are willing to share it with the researcher

Ethical Issues in the Research

Narrative research often involves obtaining information from the participants and then reflecting their past experiences. In conducting the narrative research and ethnography, it is the ethical duty of the researcher to protect and safeguard the privacy and dignity of the participants to entrench credibility and knowledge in the scholarly field of the study (Mertin, 2014).

In light of this, therefore, there are various ethical issues to be considered while conducting the research and they include the following; firstly, the confidentiality of the participants should be maintained by developing agreements with participants to delete their details that may reveal their identity. Secondly, the researcher by necessity needs to be honest with the participants by outlining what the research is all about so that the participants can have a proper understanding of what the researcher is doing and the impact of the research on them. Thirdly, the researcher should observe the ownership rights of the information from the participants to develop a proper scholarly knowledge on the field of study. Lastly, at some point of conducting the interview, the researcher may encounter a scenario where the interviewee gets overwhelmed and breaks down especially when sharing painful experiences. In this case, the researcher needs to show effective expression and empathy to comfort the interviewee. It is worth noting that, observing ethics in conducting narrative research and ethnography helps in building strong public support for the study and help in promoting the moral and social responsibility and values, human rights and adherence with the law among others.

Limitations of the Study

It should be noted that narrative research and ethnography explicitly demonstrate the individuals' desires and intentions and on this basis that they are bound to have the following limitations. Participants are always reluctant and hesitant in revealing their personal experiences and feelings to a stranger, and in most cases, the participants often recant vital data needed for the research; the texts generated by research may not be the production of the participants as they always bear the tone and inherent demeanor of the researcher. Also, there is always difficulty in selecting a representative sample as the participants often have various personal experiences which impede the researcher from selecting a sample to study; ethnography takes a lot of time as the re...

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