The recursive nature of narrative analysis

I found this draft in my drafts folder and thought it looked pretty good. Plus, it’s short.

I’ve been writing up my discussion chapter. It’s getting big. I’m a bit of a word count freak as my institution is a stickler for theses not exceeding 80000 words, but I’m thinking this is getting a little close, even for me. I’m 5000 words down, which is only putting down all the things my participants said and did in the study without even beginning to analyse them. There’s lots to analyse. This could blow out.

I found in this analytical process it was necessary to go back to my narratives – which I had thought to all intents and purposes were finished. They weren’t. They were a bit overblown and weren’t getting to the nub of the concepts I was trying to discuss. I’m not sure, even after spending the best part of 2 weeks cleaning them up, that my final product is any less awkward, but I can’t really see a way through to express all the findings I want to express without referring to their data in the way that I have. I am a story-teller, but each of these stories have 2 big characters and a substantial mise en scene I am struggling to set.

So now I’m discovering the recursive nature of this narrative approach. Just as I think I’ve pulled from the data all the stuff I’ve found, I realise that in my haste to reduce bloat I’ve removed some vital link between culture and environment or something. Ugh. But recursion is surely the name of the game in this approach. Or is it like this for all research?


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