Narrative Analysis

  • Nicole L. SharpEmail author
  • Rosalind A. Bye
  • Anne Cusick
Reference work entry


Narrative inquiry methods have much to offer within health and social research. They have the capacity to reveal the complexity of human experience and to understand how people make sense of their lives within social, cultural, and historical contexts. There is no set approach to undertaking a narrative inquiry, and a number of scholars have offered interpretations of narrative inquiry approaches. Various combinations have also been employed successfully in the literature. There are, however, limited detailed accounts of the actual techniques and processes undertaken during the analysis phase of narrative inquiry. This can make it difficult for researchers to know where to start (and stop) when they come to do narrative analysis. This chapter describes in detail the practical steps that can be undertaken within narrative analysis. Drawing on the work of Polkinghorne (Int J Qual Stud Educ. 8(1):5–23, 1995), both narrative analysis and paradigmatic analysis of narrative techniques are explored, as they offer equally useful insights for different purposes. Narrative analysis procedures reveal the constructed story of an individual participant, while paradigmatic analysis of narratives uses both inductive and deductive means to identify common and contrasting themes between stories. These analysis methods can be used separately, or in combination, depending on the aims of the research. Details from narrative inquiries conducted by the authors to reveal the stories of emerging adults with cerebral palsy, and families of adolescents with acquired brain inquiry, are used throughout the chapter to provide practical examples of narrative analysis techniques.


Narrative analysis Social constructionism Analysis procedures Paradigmatic analysis of narratives Story analyst Storytellers Narrative inquiry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole L. Sharp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rosalind A. Bye
    • 1
  • Anne Cusick
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Science and HealthWestern Sydney UniversityCampbelltownAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesSydney UniversitySydneyAustralia

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