I often say that narratives are life. We interact with our own lives as narratives – a story we’re actively participating in. We experience other people’s lives as narratives, sometimes in real time, sometimes in retrospect.
Even strict quantitative statistical analysis can still be rife with bias due to the varying perspectives and experiences of the people putting together that research study.
In other words, narrative contaminates everything. Narrative cannot be turned off, or gotten away from, because even if you’re encountering a new narrative that you’ve never experienced before, you’re interpreting it through your own narrative framework that’s been built up by your unique experiences. Narrative is everywhere. Narrative is god.
I’m in a statistics program, trying to decide to focus on qualitative methods or mixed methods. I was drawn to mixed solely because I’d like to be employable, and I feel having the ability to deal with both quantitative and qualitative data is a more marketable skill.
But my real passion is qualitative. I *love* hearing other people’s stories and experiences, reading their texts, trying to understand how different social constructs and experiences have influenced them. I do this even outside of class; I do this naturally.
A lot of people who know that I have a Master’s in Literature wonder how I ended up in data analysis, and I always tell them – Data are narrative. Data tell stories. It’s the analysis part I’m drawn to. That could be text, that could be interviews, that could be numerical data. Doesn’t matter.
All analysis requires understanding context, and being able to tell a story.
Analysts are storytellers, and narrative is god.