Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method

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Researchers in the Centre for Qualitative Research are pursuing novel and innovative methodologies that draw upon multiple influences and epistemologies from philosophy, the arts and the humanities. One example is the Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method, led by Dr Kip Jones.

Dr. Kip Jones, is a published expert in the Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method. He has studied with Chamberlayne and Wengraf, originators of the Method in the UK, and published both on the Method itself and findings from his studies using it.  The Method uses an interview technique in the form of a single, initial narrative-inducing question (minimalist-passive),  for example, ‘Tell me the story of your life,’ to illicit an extensive, uninterrupted narration. This shift encompasses willingness on the part of the researcher to cede ‘control’ of the interview scene to the interviewee and assume the posture of active listener/audience participant. A follow-up sub-session can then be used to ask additional questions, but based only on what the interviewee has said in the first interview and using her/his words and phrases in the same order, thus maintaining the narrator’s gestalt.

In typical usage of the method, microanalysis of the narrative of the reconstructed life follows the interview stage, using a reflective team approach to the data, facilitating the introduction of multiple voices, unsettling and creating a mix of meaning and encouraging communication and collective means of deliberation. In brief, The ‘Lived Life’, or chronological chain of events as narrated, is constructed then analysed sequentially and separately. The ‘Told Story’, or thematic ordering of the narration, is then analysed using thematic field analysis, involving reconstructing the participants’ system of knowledge, their interpretations of their lives and their classification of experiences into thematic fields. Rosenthal defines the thematic field as: ‘the sum of events or situations presented in connection with the themes that form the background or horizon against which the theme stands out as the central focus’.

“I Can Remember the Night” (three-minute video available in the right sidebar) is an example of arts-based dissemination used to convey a key moment in one of the biographies culled from Jones’ 2001 PhD thesis, “Narratives of Identity & the Informal Care Role”.  The ‘Gay and Pleasant Land? Project’ and RUFUS STONE also relied heavily on use of BNIM to collect stories which were then used to create the characters and plot for the short fictional film, RUFUS STONE.

Further Reading:

Jones, K. Fenge, L.-A., Read, R., Cash, M. (2013) “Collecting Older Lesbians’ and Gay Men’s Stories of Rural Life in South West England and Wales: ‘We Were Obviously Gay Girls … (So) He Removed His Cow From Our Field’” Forum: Qualitative Social Research

Jones, K. (2006) “Informal Care as Relationship: the Case of the Magnificent Seven” Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, 13: 214-220.

Jones, K. (2006) “A Biographic Researcher in Pursuit of an Aesthetic: The use of arts-based (re)presentations in “performative” dissemination of life stories”. Qualitative Sociology Review, 2, (1).

Jones, K. (2004) Thoroughly Post-Modern Mary” [A Biographic Narrative Interview with Mary Gergen].  Forum: Qualitative Social Research 5(3) Sept 2004. External Link

Jones, K. (2004) “Minimalist Passive Interviewing Technique and Team Analysis of Narrative Qualitative Data”, Ch. in New Qualitative Methodologies in Health and Social Care, F. Rapport, (Ed). London: Routledge.