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Jane Elliott

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Jane Elliott

This chapter demonstrates how narrative can be used as a tool and a sensitising concept when conducting unstructured and semi-structured research interviews. A definition of narrative is provided that builds on the work of socio-linguists Labov and Waletzky. The use of narrative across a wide range of social science disciplines is demonstrated. The chapter aims to provide practical guidelines on using narrative in research focusing on topics such as the use of a life history grid, the use of repeated interviews, recording interviews and the appropriate length of interviews. The chapter provides a detailed case study of how narrative was used to structure qualitative interviews about identity and social participation with a sub-sample of members of the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study (often known as the National Child Development Study). The strengths and limitations of narrative interviewing are discussed at the end of the chapter.