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Narrative Texts in Narrative Inquiry: Interpretive Voices to Better Understand Experiences in Given Space and Time

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DOI: 10.4236/ojl.2018.74014    163 Downloads   316 Views  

ABSTRACT

Narrative inquiry has often been regarded as a methodology evolved through human cultures of storytelling. Oftentimes, researchers espousing narrative inquiry face with the challenges of integrating meaning and perspectives into narrative texts. One group of scholars argues that narrative texts themselves are interpretations so a separate analysis is not needed. Other group goes on in favor of separating narratives from interpretation. In this context, based on my PhD field experiences with narrative inquiry on team leadership experiences of “larger size” private school principals of Kathmandu, Nepal, here I argue how narrative texts become interpretive voices open to many interpretations; and therefore, so as to make better understanding of the narratives, it is the role of researcher to make perspectival analysis of the field texts, position them to the given time and space of temporality, sociality, and place (Connelly & Clandinin, 2016) and share the researcher’s standpoints with the readers.

1. Introduction

In this paper, I bring my perspectives on the question in narrative inquiry; do narrative texts need separate analysis? To this, my arguments are thoroughly based on my first hand experiences during my PhD project through narrative inquiry approach/method. There, the purpose of my study was to better understand how school principals narrate their team leadership process within the context of their roles on team leadership in school context. In other words, the study was to illuminate team leadership process (forming, functioning and sustaining), which as my review of literature suggested, had not been previously explored through narratives of actual lived experiences of school principals of Nepali “larger size” private schools.

In the process, after I generated narratives from my participants, I approached to commonly held dilemma. Shall I leave those narrative texts open to the readers to make meaning of their own? Or, is it that as a researcher I had to come with perspectival meanings of the narratives, positioning its characters in the given time and space where (and when) the narrative incidents actually took place? Perhaps, there was no single correct route or particular method to acquire knowledge. As novice qualitative researcher, to come with easy answer to this question was, therefore, not that much easy for me.

Perhaps, we constantly revisit our perspectives as we go alone. There, I was determined to make extensive academic study pertaining to the question.

Do narrative texts need separate analysis? If needed, how does narrative inquirer make meanings from the field texts?

In addressing this question (which was the purpose of this study), I suppose that present study provides me and other novice researcher aspired to narrative inquiry a rich framework through which narrative inquirer investigate the narrative texts to experience the world within given time and space.

Delving on the questions for few weeks, I positioned myself to the argument that in narrative inquiry; there is no reason to render stories unanalyzed. Because there is no absolute reality in the world, our beliefs are relative to time, situation, and place. As such, it is likely that researcher, defining his/her positionality, has to come with reflection of subjectivities the narratives carry upon it. He/she has to come with perspectival presentation of participants’ voices (Gubrium & Holstein, 2009) . Here, participants’ voices mean their experiential narratives. Considered to the fluid nature of such field narratives, perhaps, the researcher has to look for time and space-specific meanings of such experiential narratives, and unambiguously articulate it to the readers.

In other words, narrative texts are themselves the interpretation of one kind i.e., the experiential voices of the research participants. As such, these texts/voices don’t find inquiry-induced meaning unless they are contextually interpreted. Researcher, aspired for grounded meaning, thus, first needs to define his/her position (worldview, for example), and then from the contextual (given time and space) standpoints, needs to make conscious reading between the lines among the narrative voices.

I approached to this argument only after my longer engagement with first-hand experiences to narrative inquiry approach. The brief overview of my overall process of dealing with field narratives, and my drawing of meaning from those narratives, therefore, would justify my argument. To this, few paragraphs below overviews my learning (argument building) process, from where I have come with the perspectives that field narratives are interpretation of one kind, which considered to fluid nature of the narratives, are open to many interpretations. Therefore, in narrative inquiry, the field narrative needs contextualized (time and space-specific) interpretation and every interpretation is not final that it is just a perspective one reality among many.

To this, I begin to support the argument starting with three major distinctions a narrative inquirer can make between 1) “narratives as text” vs. “narratives as practice” and 2) research “with” narratives vs. research “on” narratives, and 3) narratives in isolation vs. narratives in interaction. All such comparisons would possibly come with the meaning on how narrative texts as one form of interpretation, when engaged in interactions (within given space and time), take form of practice to praxis.

1.1. Narrative as “Text” vs. Narrative as “Practice”

In narrative inquiry, field narratives, in simple understanding, are experiential voices. When these voices are added with meanings (drawn from inquiry exercises), it takes the form of analysis. Therefore, narrating a story means giving narrative form to experience. It is to articulate what has occurred. In its early form, a field narrative is just a text, a voice or voices. When (perspectival) inquiry is added upon the text, it considers upon it the given time and space on which the text was constructed; and in doing so, the text come with (perspectival) meaning.

In their acceptance of the similar idea, Gubrium and Holstein (2009) suggested that one may draw on narratives as “texts” and narratives as “practice”. The focus on “narrative as text” acknowledges field narratives as interpretation of its own kind; and therefore, it may take its reader to remain around mere articulation of events or sequence of events. Perhaps, it advocates the idea to let narratives open to the readers to come with their own interpretive meaning-making, which sometimes would even move beyond the given time and space where (and when) the narrative actually existed.

The focus on narrative as practice, however, doesn’t acknowledge narratives as something isolated to the given time and space. The focus on “narrative as practice” goes beyond descriptive boundary and takes the readers outside their transcripts to varied storytelling occasion (Gubrium & Holstein, 2009) . Meanings are, thus, made positioned to those occasions. Under such circumstances, the narratives drawn from the field (as narrated by participants), finds inquiry induced meaning of the text, and takes the form of praxis.

1.2. Research “with” Narratives vs. Research “on” Narratives

Distinguished understanding to research “with” narratives and/or research “on” narratives may also help in developing idea on identifying researchers’ (meaning-making) role in either considering (and/or giving less interest to) given time and space in narrative inquiry. Research “with” narratives, for instance, acknowledges field narratives as means for further meaning making. It is the initial phase of narrative inquiry. It brings voice and voices into surface. The field voices of these kinds remain open to multiple meanings.

Then, there comes research “on” narratives. Here, a field narrative is not just understood as means for research but an object yet open for contextualized (and/or perspectival) meaning. It happens through narrative analysis (through researchers’ positionality), which attempts to systematically relate the narrative means, making positional sense of the event/experience/voice. Here, narrative analysts may make retrospective evaluations of life courses, which look upon “who an utterance may be directed to, when, and why, that is, for what purposes?” (Riessman, 2008: p. 105) . It equally considers upon other phenomenon circling the utterance.

1.3. “Narratives-in-Isolation” vs. “Narratives-in-Interaction”

Arriving here, similar to Riessman’s (2008) undertaking, research “on” narratives may further take the form of “narratives-in-interaction”, which focus to answer the questions like why this story here-and-now? And what is being accomplished with this story? Here, perhaps, the researcher doing narrative inquiry is supposed to exercise contextual analysis, and come with given time and space-specific meanings from collaborative (and dialogic/dialectic) engagement of “narratives in interaction”.

In other words, engaged to “narratives-in-interaction” the researcher comes with interactional meaning through co-creative, collaborative interaction of temporality, sociality, and place, which nevertheless, are synonymous to time and space on which the narratives occur. It suggests how “narrative research captures an everyday, normal form of data”, and gives additional meanings to our existing beliefs pertaining to time, situation, and place. It is shortly discussed in the few paragraphs that follow it.

Temporality, Sociality, and Place

Narrative inquiry is interactional co-creation of time, space, and researcher’s perspectival position. It is “collaboration between researcher and participants over time, in a place, or series of places and in social interaction with milieus” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000: p. 20) . As discussed in few initial paragraphs of this research article, narratives, as narrated by field participants is an interpretation in itself, and that it is open to many other interpretations. Under such circumstances, when all such dimensions (temporality, sociality, and place) are simultaneously explored in undertaking a narrative inquiry, the researcher in narrative practice (Gubrium & Holstein, 2009) is likely to approach context-specific interactional interpretation and justification.

1) Interactional interpretation

It is likely that meanings continuously unfold and get emerged from interactional engagement of the researcher with temporality, sociality, and place of the narrative-context (Connelly & Clendenin, 2006) . To this, I bring into light my own experiences with interactional interpretation of field narratives within interpretive research paradigm, and discuss further on how researcher needs to acknowledge narrative contexts (time and space) for proper meaning-making of the narratives.

Reflecting upon my own narrative inquiry process, considering the purpose of my study, to understand team leadership process in “larger size” private schools from Kathmandu valley, I situated my study within an interpretive framework. I choose this framework for the reason that my research questions were to explore how school principles narrate their experiences of team leadership.

In other words, it sought the ways for “knowing as constructing meanings” (Denzin, 2010) from my own everyday life-world and the life-world of my participants. Interpretive methods of research advocate the idea that our knowledge of reality, including the domain of human action, is a social construction, which inherently applies to researchers (Walsham, 1993) . Here, the role of the researcher is to get engaged to interactional interpretation of above mentioned dimensions as temporality, sociality, and place.

Temporality, as Connelly and Clandinin (2006) suggests, refer to the temporal transition of events as people always have a past, a present, and a future. While analyzing narrative events in the form of stories of the team leadership experiences of school principals, therefore, I tried to explore how their present stories have been shaped by their past experiences and how they have been envisioning the future.

In addressing this, as suggested above, my research design under interpretive framework embraced narrative inquiry approach of knowledge construction, using non-structured interviews with school principals, probing their narratives on lived experiences on team leadership, relating those narratives with prior studies in the field, and document studies. Doing so, I acknowledged the interpretive idea that here is no objective reality which can be discovered by researchers. As such, my efforts were largely concerned with revealing multiple realities, which as a researcher; I could unfold from field narratives (interpretation of one kind).

In doing so, I continuously stressed the need to focus on the existential conditions, the environment and surrounding factors while interpreting the narrative texts. I also stressed the need to focus, as Connelly and Clandinin (2006) suggested, “The specific concrete physical boundaries of place or sequence of places where the inquiry and events take place” (p. 480).

Interestingly, the more I looked upon those narratives, reflecting upon my own experiences, and upon temporality, sociality, and place, I began to unfold meanings often the hidden meanings, which I couldn’t see in the surface structure of the narratives as narrated by the participants. Thus, I had to add upon narrative text the narrative meaning through narrative analysis process.

Further, my own lived experiences as team leader in school context, and my reflective notes focused to this agenda served to figure reflective meanings, perhaps perspectival meanings through interactional texturing of time and space with the worldview (e.g., constructivism in my case). Through the narratives (and/or field interpretation) collected from my participants, I developed a composite view of team leadership process of three school principles. In doing so, I observed at the phenomenon through narrative texts, added upon it the interactional texturing (of temporality, sociality, and place),and thus, tried to make its meaningful (and yet perspectival) interpretation.

2) Interactional Justification

As I experienced it, in narrative inquiry, it is important to make interactional justification (personal, and social) of the research. Justification is near to defining the researcher’s position (Freeman, 2007) . To this, a researcher engaged in narrative inquiry may begin with personal justification. Simply, it is justifying the inquiry in the context of researcher’s own life experiences, tensions and personal inquiry puzzles (Clandinin & Rosiek, 2007). Further, narrative inquiry may expect social justification, where inquiry is likely to get socially justified in terms of addressing the “so what” question. It approaches narrative inquiry through meaning-making on social implication of the field narratives.

2. From Description to Interpretation

Arriving at this stage, perhaps, we have come to common meaning-making that, field narratives, in their very initial phase are interpretation of one kind, perhaps, mere description of events and/or experiences. They are “chaotic voices”, often ambiguous, which are yet to be tuned. In other words, field narratives are mere connotation of a “partial” description of lived experience. Field narratives, therefore, in its initial phase, are open to many possible meanings. To this, it is the role of researcher to reflect upon those narratives (voices) one by one, to make relational (interactional as discussed in earlier paragraphs) observation at the narratives, to explore what is exposed and what is hidden, to come with broader understanding, and to share the emerged understanding to the reader.

Following it, here, I have brought short explanation on how I understand interpretive research design, positioning the interpretive role of field narratives. This explanation also supports my argument that a phenomenon is mere phenomena a text, which needs meaningful (and yet contextualized) interpretation to find its existential meaning. To this, it is the role of narrative inquirer to add meaning to the phenomenon (field text), adding upon it the contextual frame of time and space.

Studies within the interpretive paradigm share several characteristics (Merriam, 2002) . First, the goal of interpretive studies is to understand “how people interpret and make meaning of some object, event, action, perception, etc.” (Glesne, 2011: p. 8) . It is also to understand “the meaning people have constructed about their world and their experiences” (Merriam, 2002: p. 45) . Similar to this goal, in my PhD study, through narratives, I sought to understand how school principles narrate their team leadership process at school. For this, field narratives as narrated by my participants were interpretation on their own, to which, adding upon it the interactional texturing of time, space, perspectives, sociality, and temporality; I came with inquiry-induced (interactional) interpretation of the participant’s interpretation. In other words, it happened to be an interpretation of the interpretation.

Second, in interpretive studies, the researcher is the primary instrument for data collection and data analysis, and utilizes methods such as interviews, observations, case studies, and narratives (Glesne, 2011) . These data are descriptive in nature and include field notes, interviews, or audiotapes. Thereafter, the findings are presented with quotes, stories, and descriptions. In my study as well, I followed most of these usual traditions of interpretive research design. For example, as a researcher, I collected narratives on lived experiences of my participants through informal interviews and interactions, reflected on those narratives based on my own lived experiences, observed it through expert views, and reported the inquiry-induced findings (meaning-makings) in narrative form.

In other words, “my meaning-making” was “my construction of meaning” through time and space induced interactional interpretation of field text (and/or field interpretation). It was more the product of my perspectives as I understood and built it in relation to others’ (contextual) perspectives during interaction. All these, perhaps, were more influenced by the (constructivist) worldview that I acknowledged while doing research.

2.1. Texts, Interpretation, and Worldviews

Researcher (and the reader as well) can never be free from worldviews. For example, if one claims-I don’t believe in any worldview this claim itself happen to be his/her worldview. One may draw meaning from the text based on the worldview he/she holds. Worldviews (constructivism in my case) are more the perspectival assumptions rooted to the meaning one makes stepping upon his/her touch to the given time and space. Therefore, as I believe it, a researcher (adopting narrative inquiry) has to, first, make his/her worldview clear to the readers, and second, make interactional meaning making from the narratives in reference to the given worldview. Otherwise, as reader response theory advocates, texts are so open that meanings get slipped from one reader to another based on their own worldviews.

As a researcher, I believe in local realities, co-constructed by society. Therefore, for me, knowledge is transactional or subjectivist. It is socially constructed. For this purpose, based on my familial and social-cultural background, experiences, and professional career, I developed my basic set of beliefs associated with team leadership process at schools.

As my major inquiry agenda was to explore and interpret the process of team leadership at schools, it could be closely associated with constructing, comparing, probing, and reflecting the values, ideas and behaviors of my participants. Following it, my research methodology, thus, turned to be interpretive, hermeneutical and dialectical, and therefore, my source of knowledge for my PhD research work became dialectic interactions between me and my participants through informal conversations and exchange of probing-dialogues.

In adopting it, I stressed the idea that knowledge about reality gets produced through shared meaning and social interactions. Such interactions eventually helped me to construct rich ideas through experiences and arguments from my participants with their active participation in interaction and conversations. Overall, it helped me in knowledge construction interpreting the phenomenon, and making meaning from its texts, from its narratives.

2.2. Field Narratives: “Means” or “Ends”?

I believe, narratives are “effective” means for inquiry, not the ends. How I understand narrative inquiry, and why I chose it among many other inquiry approaches, equally supports my argument that texts carry in it the voice/s and every voice carry in it the meaning, which unfolds based on context and perspectives.

As mentioned earlier, the intent of my study was to illicit team leaders’ stories under interpretive framework, informed by interpretive paradigm through the narrative inquiry approach. The intention was to explore team leadership experiences in context to school leadership practices of three school principals from three different districts of Kathmandu Valley, where those experiences are reflected through my own team leadership experiences in yet another school where I am working at present.

For this purpose, I adopted narrative inquiry approach of meaning-making. Clandinin and Connelly (2000) described the narrative inquiry approach as inquiry into narratives of lived experiences. It is considered to be not only a theory but a methodology (Clandinin, 2007) . It not only “Retains the situated nature of the participant’s experiences” but also “Includes the multiple voices of the researcher and participants”.

Narrative inquiry approach allowed me to explore and present the voices and complexities of situated experiences of three team leaders at school context that are often absent from the literature. In addition, I wrote my own self-reflective notes to investigate how and why team and team leadership featured so strongly in my own professional practices as school principal. This self-reflective involvement positioned me as “researcher-participant” within the interpretative frame.

Hollingsworth and Dybdahl (2007) have forwarded three possible theoretical perspectives: post-positivist, constructivist, and critical. My study primarily followed the constructivist perspective as it associated most closely with the interpretive paradigm in which the study was designed. Though the primary interest of the study was not emancipatory in nature, few dialectical interactions between researcher and the participations, sometimes have added critical perspectives at the phenomenon. Otherwise, the study was more interested in meaning construction rather than making critical look at study agenda.

In looking for every narrative, each story teller was positioned as a unique person. My study, in attending the context, in making detail description of the participants, and in attending to their professional history, gave space for many seen and hidden voices. Narrative inquiry, as such, allowed my participants to share their individual stories.

In my case, narratives were used not only to gather evidence that an event has occurred but rather to understand the meaning experienced by individuals (Polkinghorne, 1995) . In acknowledging its fluidity, my stories also offered my readers the possibility to re-story their professional life. It possibly unfolded many spaces for many other perspectival meanings, possibly transferred from close look upon the context (time and space) of narratives as narrated by the participants. As such, field narratives, as stated earlier, was more a means for meaning making, which when added to time and space induced perspectival interactions, came with grounded construction of the meaning.

2.3. Raw Nature of Field Narratives

As I experienced it, collecting field narratives is the first step, which gets inquiry-induced meaning after it is thoroughly analyzed within contextual frame. For example, in my study case, only after making necessary preparation for interview, now was the time for me to go to the actual field and have interview-like interactions with my participants. As interviewer, I was to solicits stories “by simply asking the interviewee to tell how something happened” (Polkinghorne, 1995: p. 13) . Each of the primary participants (school principals) were interviewed three different times during the course of the study at a location of their choosing, all of which were on the school in participants’ offices.

I visited all three school principals for 3 different times (total nine visits with all three participants in four month time period) in one month interval each between first, second, and third interviews. I made all three visits in group, where my students were with me so as to assist me with audio tape and camera. Almost all visits were for two hours each, which took place in Principal’s room. After each interview, my research team collected related documents like school prospectus, news bulletin, and school magazine for further information. I wrote reflective journal after every field visit.

First three interviews in three different schools were to narrate oral history experiences of the primary participants. Interactions were more focused to team formation experiences of my participants. In this stage, the unique experiences of each school principal was elicited with range of questions such as, historical development of team leadership culture at the school, developmental experience of team-leadership practices, and typical team leadership stories they have. In prompting, I repeatedly asked principals to elaborate on minute details on people, places, and time as relevant to their narratives.

Additionally, I gathered background information from each participant about the nature of the team, their experience in education, and their experiences as leaders. To align with a narrative approach, my questions invited participants to tell stories.

All three schools were visited for the second time after a month gap. This time, narratives on functioning of team leadership were generated. Again, the principals were visited for the third time in another one month gap. This time, I explored their narratives particularly focused to sustainability of team leadership.

Subsequent interviews (fourth visit after main interviews were complete) consisted of questions that were not asked during the first three interviews and new questions related to the observations I made during meetings. These follow-up interviews allowed for clarification and elaboration of main points made during the initial interviews.

After completion of all three major interviews with three participants each, followed by fourth subsequent interview, the collected narratives were transcribed with the support from professional transcriber to ensure accuracy during data analysis. Each participant was sent a copy of the transcript from the interview for review prior to data analysis.

Following each interview, I wrote reflective notes into my journal, adding my reflections as necessary. In doing so, I recalled thoughts and reactions that I had not audio-recorded. Additionally, throughout the research process, I noted my personal feelings and perceptions that arose and influenced my interactions with participants, data collection, and data analysis.

Writing in my research journal provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the research process and how I situated myself within it (Glesne, 2011) . It also allowed me to reflect my participants’ experiences compared to my own experiences.

Doing this, though every field narrative as narrated by participants stood there with strong voice/s (interpretation of its own), I couldn’t see “inquiry-induced meaning” there unless I made relational (and/or contextual) observation at the narrative voices. There started my meaning making process, upon which I began peeling field narratives as layers of an onion (Creswell, 2007) , made time and space induced interactional reflection upon it, and came with “inquiry induced interpretation” from the interpretation (field narratives).

2.3.1. Field Narratives in Interaction to Researcher Identity

Meanings drawn from the narratives can never be free from researcher identity. Since this study was framed within an interpretive paradigm, as the researcher, I was the primary instrument for data collection. Since I was the primary instrument of data collection, this obviously would impact data collection and analysis.

Specifically, although I had previous relationships with some of the participants, they still may not have revealed as much since they knew I was also talking with others at the school. Additionally, what I knew about the school and district impacted how I selected pieces of narrative to include in my findings. To minimize the impact of these biases, I took several different steps. Specifically, I conducted multiple interviews, asked participants to review transcripts prior to data analysis. To further reduce the impact of these biases, I reflected regularly in my research journal specifically noting personal feelings and perceptions that may have arisen and influenced my interactions with participants, and during data collection and analysis.

All these steps were, perhaps, necessary for me to come with inquiry induced interpretation of the field texts. In other words, my inquiry was but the meaning making from interactional texturing of my participants experiences and my personal reflection on their experiences, situated to the time and space of the study. Such steps possibly enabled me to define my position (Freeman, 2007) , and come with interactional interpretation (meaning-making) of field narratives.

2.3.2. Engaging the Narratives

Rhetoric, genre, logics, and metaphors, when artistically articulated, not only add meaning of the text, but also engage both the researcher and the readers in meaning-making process. It adds the intensity of interaction, through synergic play of temporality, sociality and place during meaning construction. Rhetoric is the style of presenting written or the spoken work. In accepting the limitation of written and spoken language to bring into surface the actual experiences, sometimes the structured languages are to be deviated.

Therefore, as constructivist, I often made use of metaphors (school as garden, for example). Some other times, I reported narratives in more personal and informal tone (perhaps to add contextual subjectivity, which in return became more supportive in adding life-likeness in my narratives. The use of narrative genre, further, gave me enough space for dialogical meaning-making. Often, the multiple voices, therefore, were in synergic interactions to add meanings from the life-world.

In short, engaged to the field narratives through rhetorical use of language, genre, logics, and metaphors inherently supported me in constructing interactional meaning from the field text/s.

2.3.3. Constructing Meaning from the Narratives

Meaning-making began after each interview meetings and observation as I recorded my experiences, thoughts, and feelings in my research journal. Once the data were collected and reviewed by participants, I began to consider the ways to make meanings, and write the narratives.

Researchers agree that there is no one right way to analyze and present narratives (e.g., Clandinin & Rosiek, 2007) . In this line, Connelly and Clandinin (2006) suggest three approaches that narrative inquiry can take: broadening (making generalizations); burrowing (deeply exploring one event); and restorying (creating a new story, adding meaning and exploring the significance in the larger life story). For this study, I chose restoring approach of meaning-making. I explored school principals’ experiences on team leadership and positioned each within their own narrative and the narratives of others.

For meaning-making from narratives, I utilized the transcribed interviews and field notes to identify categories, as with more traditional qualitative analyses (Polkinghorne, 1995) . I specifically focused on categories that helped provide understanding of the context for my study. In this part of my analysis, I utilized the constant comparative method as described by Glaser and Strauss: 1) initial coding; 2) category integration; 3) reduction of the number of categories; and 4) theory comparison.

In the first phase, I used open coding for the interview transcripts, reading each interview line by line and coding for distinct incidents, ideas, or events. There were two types of categories that I attended to: those that I constructed (which were explanations) and those that were taken from the language found in the literature. In the second phase, I re-read transcripts and my field notes to identify the properties of each of the categories. I also determined relationships among categories. In the third phase, I reduced the number of categories to emphasize those that addressed my particular research questions, specifically the context in which the Team existed. Thereafter, I compared the categories to those that were found in the literature.

It illustrates how during narrative inquiry, my undertaking of field narratives as raw means for constructing grounded meaning inherently appeared with interactive texturing of given time and space. Perhaps “The nuance and ambiguities (inherent to the fragmented nature of field narratives) cannot be expressed or tolerated in the paradigmatic mode of knowledge”. It needs contextual texturing of the life-world.

3. Conclusion and Study Implication

With all these evidences as mentioned in above paragraphs, I stress the argument that in narrative inquiry field narratives are descriptive voices and/or interpretation on their own. In narrative inquiry, such field interpretations find inquiry-induced meaning only after being meaningfully engaged through interactional texturing of time and place, perhaps, the temporality, the sociality, the place and the researchers’ perspectives.

Therefore, it is researcher to present the raw narratives artistically (through rhetorical use of language), exploring ways to add meanings, which are often hidden (or not adequately visible) in the possibly fragmented field narratives. In narrative inquiry, field narratives (interpretation) are not self-sufficient unless they are brought into further interpretation, considering researcher’s subjectivity, sociality, practicability together with the time and space of narrative texts.

It is likely that the novice researchers aspired to narrative inquiry, who are facing methodological dilemma on what to do with field narratives in meaning-making process may come with some understandings from this study. Nonetheless, there is no single correct route or method to construct meaning. This study just adds strength to the argument that in narrative inquiry field narratives are not self-sufficient to built grounded theory from the lived experiences of participants’ life-world. Rather, the field narratives are mere means for meaning-making, to which, it is the role of the researcher to bring time and space underlying the field narratives into consideration, and construct contextual (and/or perspectival) meaning out of it.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

Cite this paper

Jha, S. (2018) Narrative Texts in Narrative Inquiry: Interpretive Voices to Better Understand Experiences in Given Space and Time. Open Journal of Leadership, 7, 237-249. doi: 10.4236/ojl.2018.74014.

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