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Using Photographs to Elicit Narrative Accounts

Robinson, David (2002) Using Photographs to Elicit Narrative Accounts. In: Narrative, Memory and Life Transitions. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 179-187.

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      This paper discusses the use of photographs as a means of eliciting narrative
      accounts in an interview setting. A number of different methods have been
      developed with the specific intention of eliciting narrative accounts in
      interviews (see for example, Flick, 1995; Riemann and Schutze, 1987;
      McAdams, 1993). However, there is no doubt that enabling people to provide
      narrative accounts can often be somewhat problematic (Flick, 1998). Over and
      above the problems encountered with the use of a specific method there is an
      inherent power differential present in any interview situation. This paper will
      argue that photo-assisted interviews can go some way to reducing the power
      imbalance present in traditional interview settings and thereby empower
      research participants. In addition, photo-assisted interviews are an interesting
      and effective way of generating narrative accounts. Data collected during a
      research project exploring the construction of identity during the transition to
      university will be used to illustrate some of the points made.
      Mishler (1986) argues that an interview is a socially situated activity. It is a
      joint production consisting of the ‘talk’ of the interviewer and the ‘talk’ of the
      interviewee. Mishler (1986) contrasts this view with what he refers to as the
      ‘traditional approach to interviews’ where every attempt is made to ensure that
      every participant receives the same questions. He argues that this traditional
      approach to interviewing is inappropriate in situations where the aim of the
      research is to develop a better understanding of the way in which people make
      sense of their world. Mishler (1986) identifies two major areas that are
      problematic in interviews. The first concerns the form of the questions and who
      asks them. There is no doubt that the answers generated in an interview
      situation depends on the way in which the question is formulated and are also
      influenced by the person asking the question. Factors such as the age,
      appearance, sex, and ethnic background of the interviewer are likely to have an
      impact on the answers given in an interview. This might seem to be a rather
      basic and somewhat simplistic point to make but it would appear that these
      issues have been somewhat neglected in the development of qualitative
      research methods. The second issue that Mishler (1986) identifies concerns the

      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Additional Information: Copyright for chapters remain with individual authors at all times and permission should be sought from the author for any reproduction other than for personal use.
      Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
      B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
      T Technology > TR Photography
      Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
      School of Human and Health Sciences > Narrative and Memory Research Group > Narrative and Memory Research Group Annual Conference
      School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Applied Psychological Research
      Related URLs:
      Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
      Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2009 10:33
      Last Modified: 22 Dec 2010 13:29


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