28 February 2023 at 3:00:37 pm
Senior Teaching Fellow
Singapore Management University
Yin Teng teaches critical thinking and communication skills in a local university. Her students include undergraduates and young working adults. She enjoys interacting with her students and hearing their stories of personal and professional growth.
The Power of Short Stories in an Ethnographic Study
Ethnography, Genre of short story in ethnographic studies, Restorying
Ethnographers have traditionally always included narratives about its participants. Such narratives are written up by researchers in various forms: case studies, transcripts of interviews, researchers’ diary. Far more recently, ethnographers are beginning to use restorying. Restorying is a short narrative that consolidates data such as interviews, researchers’ observations and journal entries. It is written in the 5-part rhetorical structure of a short story (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution) as well as an additional component – analysis. Restorying is a research methodology where both the researcher and participant collaborate to write the experience together. This is unlike the traditional methods for presenting ethnographic data.
In this presentation, I will provide an overview of my research study which examines novice writers’ experiences of learning to write business proposals. Bell (2002) argues that stories allow the researcher to draw out a far richer account of the participant’s experience than people are even aware of. This method unearths previously hidden assumptions, feelings, and challenges in their experience. After the individuals have shared their experiences, the roles between the researcher and the participants are switched. The researcher will now “retell (or restory or remap) in their own words” (Creswell, 2014, p. 537) and analyze the accounts so that voices that used to be marginalised can now be heard. Both the researcher and the participant collaborate in telling a story that is meaningful, rich, persuasive, accurate, and real (Creswell, 2014; Huber et al., 2013). The participant becomes a co-researcher (Huber et al., 2013).
Given that it is a relatively new methodology, researchers face a number of challenges. They might misinterpret the stories or face the difficult task of identifying the setting, characters, and plot, and rewriting the story. In the process, the researcher needs to include details and descriptions, forge links between events, and identify themes in order to enrich the narrative (Ollerenshaw & Creswell, 2002). The researchers send drafts of the narrative to the participants to ask them to verify the details in the interpreted version. The participants’ voice continues to be heard as both the researchers and the participants negotiate, correct, or fill the gaps in the interpreted stories.
Despite its challenges, short stories have the power to bring to life the voice of the participants in the ethnographic study because they are given greater agency in crafting the story the researcher tells about them.
Please provide an overhead projector for my presentation. Thank you.