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Importance of Narrative Approach Research Paper



The narrative approach involves telling and listening stories about the experiences and problems that people have had in life. Story telling and listening helps individuals in shaping new realities in people’s lives. Events are changed to narratives of hope through the use of language. People use narratives to organize ideas, predict what is likely to happen and understand the challenges they face in life.

The choices that people make depend on the meanings attributed to various events as well as the options which they consider. According to Carr, narrative is part of the event in addition to giving the descriptions of the event. Narrative research qualifies as a category of qualitative research.

Oral narrative is an example of narrative approach. In this case, data is collected from different respondents who have experience in an event for example the First World War. The researcher should analyze and evaluate the accounts of each respondent. Narrative is a very important method of data collection.

Role of Narrative Approach

Narrative research is important in studying the quality of life. This is because people are allowed to determine the appropriate information for a particular discussion. Another advantage is the collaborative nature of the approach where the researcher and the respondent are given equal powers. The method is also beneficial to the respondent because he is part of the decision making body.

Therapeutic stories involving the experiences of illness are also taught. The information achieved is helpful to the participant and the clinical researcher. In clinical narratives, the participant creates stories about symptoms of a certain disease, diagnosis as well as how he progresses after medication. Clinical stories help in restoration of physical and mental damages caused on the body.

There are various methods of analyzing data received from participants. One of the methods is called thematic analysis which involves identification of the common ideas and phases by the respondents.

However some scientists argue that the narratives provide much more accurate information than analyzed data since the possibility of eliminating some data is high. The researcher should provide the material as given by the participant because the information is more realistic (Chambers, 1977).

History of a society may be passed down from one generation to another through the word of mouth a process called Oral History. This history is not put down in records. This method was used in the olden days to learn the history of the society. Oral historians in the olden days used to sit around the fire place in the evening and then narrate the events which happened long time ago.

Oral history was a way of preserving culture and the traditions of the society. People learn history of their society through conversing with people who remember them and also attending ceremonies like, dances and other activities of the society.

Knowledge of a particular culture or country is achieved through interacting with members of that particular group who have experiences and memories of that country. Oral history involves passage of information from one generation to another through the word of mouth. In many traditional societies, children were taught the culture and traditions of their communities by their parents and the elderly people.

In some cases, they had training sessions where children were gathered by adults so as to be trained. Information was passed through story telling, legends, use of riddles as well as myths. The main subjects included the history of the society, religious and cultural beliefs of the society and the unexpected behaviors of the people.

Oral history helps in recording information, ideas, and experiences of an individual on Medias like tape. Apart from keeping records, oral information is another method of passing information to other people who might not have been present during the time an event happened. It is a convenient method of passing information for illiterate people who lack writing and reading skills.

Through oral history, new materials are added to the existing ones concerning society’s historical events and other aspects of the society. Oral tradition is especially useful in documenting the history of marginalized people like the aborigines.

This is because they are not recognized by the government. In oral history, an individual or group is interviewed to provide information regarding how it felt for one to live in a particular place and time (Chambers, 1977).

History of Moosonee Town

Moose Cree First Nation initially referred to as the Moose Factory is made up of a group of Indians. It is a Cree First nation located at the source of River Moose in an island on the southern part of James Bay. It is located in Ontario City in Canada. Moosonee town is the nearest community located at a distance of three miles from the Moose Factory community. The island of moose factory is estimated to be 1300 acres.

The main transportation means in Moose Factory is air and railway line. From Moosonee town people use train and plane to access the area. The rail way services are offered by Ontario Northland Transportation Commission while air transport is provided by AirCreebec.

Freighter canoes and boats made of glass fibres referred to as Geemans are used by people to travel from the mainland to the island during the summer months. During the winter period, the roads are covered with ice. People use cars, tracks and snow machines for transportation. Helicopter is the only means of transportation used during freeze-up periods (Asch, 1997).

Geographical Outfit

Moose factory is a low lying area covered with sedimentary rocks like limestone, shale and dolomite. The area is “poorly drained as a result of the terrains extreme flatness, marine clay which retains the moisture of the soil as well as frequent occurrence of permafrost” (Asch, 1997, p.45). The area therefore experiences the problem of water logging. However, river banks are high enhancing the drainage system of the area.

Trees like black spruce and balsam popular do well in the area. There are mainly three jurisdictions governing the Moose Factory. The largest Indian reserved area found on the northern part of the island is under the reign of the Council of the Moose Cree First Nation. Moose Factory Local Services Board governs land under the provincial ownership.

Finally, federal crowned land is governed by the National Health and Welfare of Canada. The Cree has been a peaceful nation where people are free to travel to all parts. Hunting and gathering as well as fishing were the main diets of the Cree population (Canada, Indian & Northern Affairs Canada, 1997).

Social and Economic Outfit of the Town

Aboriginal people in Canada include the Inuit, Métis and the First Nations. There are more than 630 recognized First Nations in Canada most of which are found in Ontario and British Columbia Provinces. The average population of first people is 7000 000 people. These groups are classified together with the minority groups, women as well as the physically and mentally disabled people in the Employment Equity Act.

The first nations are not recognized in the laws and statistics of Canada. They are discriminated in the places of work by not being given equal opportunities with other people. The first nation s settled in today’s Canada long time go where they established trading routes. Each community had its own cultural values and traditions.

Some of the First Nations communities include Slavey, Kwakiutl, Sarcee and Cree. The society’s leadership style was hereditary. Agriculture was a major economic activity among these groups. Many changes have occurred in these communities because of the influence from the Europeans who visited the country back in the 15th and 16th century (Chambers, 1977).

Discrimination in the factory is also based on the qualification of personnel. The management does not consider individuals qualification before administering the jobs. Most of the personnel are taken from the recognized communities in favor of a Cree who may be having better qualifications. This is a disadvantage to the company because they are likely to affect the production of the country.

Corruption in the factory is high because people are mainly from the same community. Corruption can make the factory to collapse because factory funds are misused or channeled to the wrong direction. If the factory could ensure that its employers come from all the communities, then corruption can be minimized (Pontinng, 1997). The Cree is an aboriginal nation found in North America.

The nation stretches from the Rocky Mountains to Atlantic Ocean in the United States and Canada. Original Cree language was widely spoken in northern America but nowadays English and French languages are widely used. The Cree is the largest First Nation in Canada with over 200 000 heads. They allowed intertribal marriages which may be the reason behind its high population.

For example, the Métis community originated from intermarriage between the Cree and French people of Canadian origin. The population of the Cree increased rapidly in the 17th and 18th century after their acquisition of firearms as well as their fur trade engagements with the Europeans.

Their population however decreased drastically in 1784 and 1838 when there was an outbreak of small pox epidemics. Out break of wars also contributed to decrease in population. The Cree borrowed practices from the people they interacted with (Chambers, 1977).

Sampling and Data collection

A case study is the intensive and holistic study of an individual or a specific group. The main aim of a case study is to understand what makes that particular group unique from other groups. Case study deals with people’s way of live, the environment they live, their economic activities as well, as the people they interact with. Case studies analyze what cause problems in a particular area and provide solution to the problems.

Focus group interview is a method of data collection emerged in 1930s. The method was an opposition to the traditional methods of data collection. Social scientist doubted the traditional methods used for collecting data. Patton argued that focus group method can be applied in all stages of a research program. It can be applied at the beginning of the research program in the middle and also after the completion of the program.

Story telling as a traditional method plays a very important role in understanding facts and lesson of education and self- control. Among the Cree, stories are divided in to two types. The “atilokam” considered as a legend gives the description of the olden days when animals like human beings talked.

The second type of story is called “tipachimowin”. These stories describe modern events. The elders narrate to the current generation about the experiences he has had during his life time. Narrations of stories among the Cree take the form of a performance and each performance is unique (Magocsi, 2002).

When conducting research on a particular society, the researcher should closely relate with the members of the community. One of the ways is through interacting with the members by living with them. The researcher should spend most of his time with the people and if possible learn their cultural practices and languages.

This is important because some of his respondents may only be conversant with their indigenous language alone. Language barrier will hinder the researcher from conducting the research due to misunderstanding. Having knowledge of the community’s ways of lives will help in determining whether the respondents are providing him with the right information.

The researcher should also look for somebody who is fully conversant with the indigenous languages that will help him in interpretation of the language. After the researcher is aware with the ware about of a community, he chooses respondents who will help him in getting materials pertaining the topic of research. There are several ways which he can use to get materials.

The researcher can choose to interview the people one by one orally and put down the main points as the respondent talks. The researcher should ensure that his respondents do not have prior knowledge of the questions he is to ask. This is to ensure that they do not discuss and give him the same answers.

On the other hand, he should ensure that he is confidential. He should not discuss a respondent’s answer with another one whatsoever (Chambers, 1977).

Another method of collecting data is through the use of a questionnaire. The researcher should give his respondents a questionnaire so that they can answer the questions on the research topic. He should ensure that the respondents do discuss the question. Each respondent should give his own answers. After they have filled the questionnaire, the researcher should collect the questionnaires.

After collecting data, the researcher should examine the answers and summarize them in a rough draft. After ensuring that his topic of research is satisfied, the researcher should record the information in the book to be used by people in future. Alterations should not be made on the book without the author’s permission (Chambers, 1977).

If a researcher wants to conduct his studies in a particular community, there are some procedures which must be followed. This is to ensure that the researcher gets the intended information. This is because oral history may not be reliable in collecting data which is to be documented for future uses. One of the reasons is because the respondent may exaggerate the information as he narrates.

Exaggerations are made so that the document becomes more interesting. They may also exaggerate to make an event look more disgusting than it was. Another reason is because the respondent may have forgotten some of the information. In this case, he/she will give inadequate information and chances of creating ones information are high.

The researcher should therefore be keen to ensure that he gets what he needs. Finally, the respondent may choose to give the wrong information. The researcher should therefore not depend on materials received from one respondent. He should conduct as many respondents as possible and then compare information provided by each of them (Pontinng, 1997).

Stages of data analysis

Data analysis is a process which involves various stages. Bogdan and Biklen define data analysis as the process of working with data, organizing and analyzing it to meaningful information. It also involves knowing what is important as well as deciding what to tell other people. The first stage of data analysis is transcribing. During this stage, video and audio recordings are put down in a written text by transcribers.

The transcriber should ensure that he does not identify the participants in the records. The participants should not use their real names during the recording and taping sessions. During this stage, the researcher should maintain the confidentiality by hiding the participant’s personal information (Pontinng, 1997). The second stage is getting to know the data.

The transcripts are studied carefully by the researcher and other interviewers. They should understand the data well in order to make good interpretations. The next stage is First level coding. In this stage, the researcher and interviewer’s breakdown and compare the data provided to determine the themes in the data. Analysis should not be based on themes which are already known.

The text should be read to discuss the themes occurring in the text. In the next stage known as Axial Coding, the researcher re-examines materials provided in the second stage to determine their relationship with each other. The researcher should group the related points together to make bigger categories. In stage four, the researcher brings all the information together.

The researcher comes out with his final decision which he records down for use by other people. The last stage is checking out the data. The final material is taken back to the participants who will determine the accuracy of what is provided (Pontinng, 1997).


Narrative study is important especially in the case of marginalized communities. These communities were ignored by researchers and little is known about them. These communities are as important as the larger communities and they contribute a lot to the development of the country. Aborigines in Canada including the Cree community should be given equal opportunities just like other people.

Discrimination and exploitation of these communities in places of work should be discouraged. In the modern world, people should be treated equally and resources should be distributed equally to all communities. This helps in maintaining the political stability of the country. When a particular group realizes that they are exploited, conflicts are likely to arise which will lead to civil wars in the community.

Employment opportunities in the country should be fair without discrimination whether based on race or tribal. Communities should learn to appreciate the minority groups and live in harmony with them. This strengthens the unity of a country. It is an advantage to minority groups because they are recognized in. Political stability is the main goal of all the countries (Pontinng, 1997).


Asch, M. (1997). Aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada: Essays on law, equality, and respect for difference. Washington: UBC Press.

Canada, Indian & Northern Affairs Canada. (1997). First nations in Canada. New York, NY: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Chambers, W. (1977). The oral tradition: storytelling and creative drama. New York, NY: W. C. Brown Co.

Dickason, P. (1992). Canada’s first nations: a history of founding peoples from earliest times. New York, NY: University of Oklahoma Press.

Magocsi, P. (2002). Aboriginal peoples of Canada: A short introduction. New York, NY: University of Toronto Press.

Pontinng, R. (1997). First Nations in Canada: perspectives on opportunity, Empowerment, and self-determination. London: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

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