Narrative analysis

Authored by: Joanna Thornborrow

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415551076
eBook ISBN: 9780203809068
Adobe ISBN: 9781136672927


 Download Chapter



Narrative discourse is pervasive in most contexts for social interaction. Storytelling is integral to the way we structure, account for and display our understanding of our human condition and experience; therefore analysing narrative as a genre, or particular form of talk activity, has become one of the central areas of inquiry within the broad field of discourse analysis. Narrative analysis has been approached from many different angles across the social sciences, and from a variety of analytical perspectives and methodologies, depending on disciplinary priorities and research foci (see particularly Juzwik this volume). In this chapter I will limit my discussion of narrative analysis to an overview of the principle methods and findings taken from the related fields of interactional sociolinguistics, discourse pragmatics and conversation analysis. The scope of this work means that some forms of narrative discourse cannot be addressed here, for instance fictional, text-based, or ‘news’ narratives, nor will I be dealing with the more abstract sense of ‘big’ stories, sometimes called social, macro- or ‘meta-narratives’, which tend to emerge as conceptual frameworks within the fields of social and cultural studies. However, there is now a considerable body of research that deals primarily with largely unscripted, naturally occurring, spoken narrative discourse. This includes both informal storytelling, the ‘small’ stories (Georgakopoulou, 2007) that are woven into the fabric of everyday talk and conversational interaction, and more formal, institutional contexts for narrative discourse, from the media to the courtroom, from research interviews to therapeutic encounters. I will look at examples of both conversational and institutional narratives in this chapter. But the first step in narrative analysis is to establish a framework for identifying narrative discourse, which is to say that we need to be able to describe a story formally, before addressing the issue of what storytelling means and how it functions across different contexts for talk.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.