Parton, Loren Ellis (2021) The Narrative Roles Framework: an examination of the narratives of offenders and the general population. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The Narrative approach has been shown to provide a rich understanding of offender’s actions and behaviour, rather than the typical societal or dispositional explanations to criminality. It is suggested by exploring the ‘inner narratives’ of offenders that this provides an insight into the role in which offenders identify with and ultimately the underpinning explanations to their criminal actions. Additionally, by connecting those narratives to character roles and actions. Previous literature within this area has identified a relationship between narrative roles, the emotions experienced by offenders and types of crime. The present thesis aims to provide a comprehensive consideration of the Narrative roles framework and explore the applicability of the narrative roles questionnaire across different contexts. Furthermore, it includes a critical discussion of the use of the Narrative roles questionnaire (NRQ) as an instrument to collect narrative experiences, these are highlighted throughout the thesis.

Data samples collected from offenders from three different European cultures and the general population were explored utilising a battery of questionnaires focused on collecting the narrative experiences of individuals. The aim was to conduct a cross-cultural analysis of offender's narratives, emotions and crime types to establish similarities and differences amongst the samples. Results revealed the existence of narrative roles in line with the Narrative roles framework developed by Canter and Youngs (2011) however the distinction between the revenger and hero role is discussed further. Additionally, findings revealed that emotions can be differentiated into four themes as suggested by Russell (1997) in his Circumplex of emotions. Further analysis explored the differences in the narrative roles revealed in relation to different types of crime. Findings suggested that dominant narratives were associated with the different types of crime. It is identified that some of the studies within the thesis are replications of previous research, however the uniqueness of the sample in terms of the differences in offender characteristics allows for the strengthening of an already established area of study.

In relation to the general population study, findings revealed the existence of four narrative roles when individuals described a significant event. Three of the roles revealed were in line with the Narrative roles framework as described by Canter and Youngs (2011). However, there was the existence of a new role revealed within the SSA configuration, this describes a narrative of positivity and new experiences. These findings generally support the narrative roles framework and that similar narrative roles are revealed within positive and negative significant events. However, within positive events, there is a new narrative role that is in line with the theme of the narrative being positive.

The current thesis makes a significant contribution to the development of knowledge around the Narrative theory, in particular the efficacy of the approach in examining criminal behaviour. Furthermore, it provides a comprehensive critical discussion of the self-report method of gathering data and the validity and reliability of the NRQ. In terms of practical implications, the results can provide information regarding specific types of offenders and the most effective way in which treatment interventions can be tailored depending on their dominant life narrative. Finally, the thesis has provided a unique exploration into the use of the NRQ in relation to a significant event within the general population, aiming to determine the applicability of the NRQ as an instrument to measure narrative experiences in different contexts. In summary, the thesis explores the internal and external factors which have been suggested to influence how criminal behaviour is carried out, the thesis brings these factors together and examines the relationship between these. It provides a unique perspective and overview of the narrative approach and how roles can provide an insight into the life stories of offenders and interestingly the general population. Whilst providing empirical evidence to the approach and testing the validity of a tool in which to examine the stories in which individuals tell about their lives.

Parton THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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