Can one do narrative research on oneself?

Home Forums Default Forum Can one do narrative research on oneself?

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #6427
    Alexandra Cuncev

    I have recently come accross this question… I am wondering what other people think about this?


    Yes, its called auto-ethnography. Other might call it autobiography.

    Adam Mrozowicki

    Douglas Porpora and Andrea Maccarini – so two CR people – presented a paper on it during the ‘Reflexivity in the New Millenium’ session in Budapest (IIS Congres in June). Here is the abstract:

    Self-Examination of Our Reflective Internal Conversations:
    What Do We Talk to Ourselves About in the 21st Century?

    Douglas Porpora Andrea Maccarini Wesley Shumar
    Drexel University University of Padua Drexel University


    From the early pragmatists like George Herbert Meade and Charles Horton Cooley, up through the most recent writings of Norbert Wiley and Margaret Archer, there has been an emphasis on the relation between selfhood and self-reflection.
    As Archer has indicated, self-reflection can take a number of different forms. What Archer calls communicative reflexives, for example, prefer to make final decisions only after talking with others first. In contrast, autonomous and meta-reflexives depend more on the internal conversations they have with themselves.

    We need to know more about the internal conversations of autonomous and meta-reflexives. At the moment, for all its importance, internal conversation is something we know very little about empirically. Is internal speech just a streamlined form of external speech as Vygotsky thought? Is inner dialogue constant or something that comes and goes? And what in the twenty-first century do we talk to ourselves about?

    To answer such questions, the three, meta-reflexive authors of this paper undertook what amounts to an ethnography of the soul. Specifically, they each carefully trained themselves to observe and record the nature of their inner conversations over the course of several weeks. In this paper, they will accordingly compare and contrast what they discovered themselves to be doing by way of inner dialogue.


    Would be very interesting to find out what they learned from their inner dialogue.

    We had an interesting exercise in autoethnography while planning an operational model for an electronic collaboration and you may read it at this link:



    Tom Wengraf

    I agree with Vincent’s point about some important commonality between self-narratives and narratives about the other. But I find a difference as well. I think it is easier to see the ‘defensiveness’ of somebody else, because their hotspots/blindspots never coincide completely with our own. But our own hotspots/blindspots coincide completely with our own, so we need the perspective of another to complement and rectify our own always-faulty self-perception. Were this not the case, nobody would ever need professional therapy, firms would not need external consultants, regimes….. etc. etc.


    Tom Wengraf

    I agree with the points you make, Vincent. My focus is probably a bit different from your’s. I have seen a few published auto-ethnographies, and I have found them self-illusion indulgent. I imagine the unpublished ones are even more so. Given the notion that people/organisations/societies are always defended against self-knowledge, then an ethnography of oneself which does not rigorously involve the Other’s view of the target ‘oneself’ is merely going to reinforce one’s self-delusions and collusions!

    It is not an ‘audience’ for one’s favourite view of oneself that is needed for the sort of work I’m thinking about: it is a ‘critical view on my favourite self-description’….

    The road to understanding why I am at least partially wrong about myself lies through valuing other people’s view of why I am at least partially wrong over my view that my spontaneous self-ethnography is liklely to be broadly correct.

    The life examined only by myself is not examined at all!

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • The forum ‘Default Forum’ is closed to new topics and replies.