Living Stories: The Role of the Researcher in the Narration of Life


  • Ainslie Yardley University of Western Sydney



narrative inquiry, ethics, autobiography, embodied stories, creativity, extended consciousness, storytelling, social research


Narrative inquiry has the advantage of being able to reveal the "inner life" of the analytical text that is usually obscured—a powerful addition to the researcher's toolbox. The interpretive character of narrative takes us beyond reportage and recording of data. This contribution discusses ethical questions emerging from taking a narrative turn in social research, and asks, "Who owns stories once they are told? Can the telling of a "true" story always be considered ethically sound?" The shaping and ownership of meaning is a crucial consideration for researchers in cross-disciplinary domains and cannot be isolated from aesthetic considerations—whether a story sounds good or adds weight to an argument. This article deals with ethical considerations as they relate to specific work with specific people, and with how engagement in creative processes in research becomes a contributing element in the ethical life of the narrator. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs080337


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Author Biography

Ainslie Yardley, University of Western Sydney

Dr Ainslie YARDLEY (PhD, UWS, 2006) is a novelist, theatre artist, non-fiction author, and digital multi-media essayist. Her current work focuses on embodied creativity and the role narrative plays in consciousness and communication. Her work in community has included youth theatre productions and projects with refugee claimants from many areas of conflict throughout the world. She has worked with the Australian AIDS Memorial QUILT Project, the Bosnian Community Choir in Brisbane and a number of multi-media projects in mental health institutions. Dr YARDLEY has lectured in Cultural Ecology and Production Management and is currently a researcher with the Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney.


How to Cite

Yardley, A. (2008). Living Stories: The Role of the Researcher in the Narration of Life. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3).



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