Narratives and the everyday
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‘Narratives and the everyday’. Ann Phoenix Doing Narrative Research. In association with the University of Sussex. Increasing social science and humanities focus on the everyday. The everyday is central to the understanding of identities, agency and social life (Silva and Bennett, 2004).

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Narratives and the everyday

‘Narratives and the everyday’

Ann Phoenix

Doing Narrative Research

In association with the University of Sussex


Increasing social science and humanities focus on the everyday

Increasing social science and humanities focus on the everyday

  • The everyday is central to the understanding of identities, agency and social life (Silva and Bennett, 2004).

  • Narrative methods are one way to capture the complexity of the mundane rather than to reduce and simplify it (Hollway and Jefferson, 2012).

  • Doing Narrative Research illuminates possibilities of studying the everyday.


Narratives and the everyday

‘In each case, doing-cooking is the medium for a basic, humble, and persistent practice that is repeated in time and space, rooted in the fabric of relationships to others and to one’s self, marked by the ‘family saga’ and the history of each, bound to childhood memory just like rhythms and seasons. ... A woman’s worry: ‘Will the cake be moist enough?; a woman’s observation: ‘These tomatoes are not very juicy, I’ll have to add some water while they cook.’ A transmission of knowledge: ‘My mother (or aunt or grandmother) always told me to add a drop of vinegar to grilled pork ribs.’ A series of techniques [tours de main] that one must observe before being able to imitate them: ‘To loosen a crêpe, you give the pan a sharp rap, like this.’ These are multifaceted activities that people consider very simple or even a little stupid, except in the rare cases where they are carried out with a certain degree of excellence, with extreme refinement—but then it becomes the business of great chefs, who of course, are men.

...This culinary work is alleged to be devoid of mystery and grandeur, but it unfurls in a complex montage of things to be done according to a predetermined chronological sequence, planning, organizing, and shopping; preparing and serving; clearing, putting away and tidying up. It haunts the memories of novelists...’

Luce Giard (1980) In De Certeau, Giard and Mayot (1998) The Practice of Everyday Life, Vol. 2, tr. Timothy Tomasik


Narratives and the everyday

Giard’s narrative shows the complexity & invisibility of everyday practices (c.f. Scott, 2010; Sztompka, 2008)

  • ✎Practices often taken-for-granted and not attended to: ‘Kitchen Women Nation’.

  • ✎ ‘Doing-cooking’ is repetitive, performative & relational

  • ✎ Domestic cooking routines show gender inequalities

  • ✎ Celebration of unrecognised skills

  • ✎Memorialises intergenerational transmission of skills

  • ✎ Embodied multisensory emotions & memories

  • ✎ Geographically located & historically bound—changes incrementally (Perkins & Thorns, 2012)

  • ✎Micro and macro inextricably linked—e.g. in gendered power relations (chefs)—Agency?


Kristin langellier eric peterson 2004 storytelling in daily life performing narrative

Kristin Langellier & Eric Peterson (2004) Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative


Narrative performances are a crucial and ubiquitous part of everyday life

Narrative performances are a crucial and ubiquitous part of everyday life

  • ☎ Most common way people make sense of their experiences and claim identities.

  • ☎ Study of the everyday often makes visible the invisible—how best to study what may not be conscious, or previously narrated and what is done, rather than said?

  • ☎ Narratives of everyday life matter for social policy and political engagement—the construction of the normative and canonical are at stake.

For everyday life studies, Foucault could act as a kind of caution for any one claiming too hastily that the attention towards everyday life... is simply beneficial, and needs to be encouraged...the everyday has been continually invaded by a certain scrutiny for the effective governance of social subjects.... and for the most part that scrutiny has accompanied the policing of everyday life. Sexual practices, hygiene, family life, work regimes, diet, have continually been seen as the province of governmental agents. (Highmore, 2002: 11)


Focus on narratives helps understanding of policy behaviour change

  • Outcomes and possibilities are storied, or ‘framed’ (c.f. Jane Elliott, 2005).

  • Explores individual and group (family) values, norms and behaviours from a global perspective through research in India and the UK and family histories of migration as well as families and food practices.

  • NOVELLA analyses everyday experiences in families in a mixed-methods approach that combines narrative methods with a range of other qualitative and quantitative approaches.

  • Addresses the intersection between the individual/agent and social structures as a context for action within the habitual, ‘quotidian practices’ of family and personal lives.

  • Research designed to understand links between narrative construction and behaviour and effective interventions.

  • Understanding significance of historical and international data.

Focus on narratives helps understanding of policy & behaviour change


Narratives and the everyday

Narratives of Varied Everyday Lives and Linked Approaches

Food Blogs

(MODE)

CONCEPTUAL CONNECTIONS & METHODOLOGY

TRAINING & CAPACITY BUILDING

  • Internet resources

  • Workshops

  • Master classes

  • Courses

  • Symposia

Narratives, practices and identities

Secondary narrative analysis

Linking data

Paradata (HUB)

The team

Ann Phoenix; Janet Boddy; Julia Brannen; Rebecca O’Connell; Heather Elliott; Jane Elliott; Abigail Knight; Natasha Shukla; Claire Cameron; Rowena Lamb (Administrator); Molly Andrews; Corinne Squire; Gina Crivello; Ginny Morrow; Emma Wilson; Uma Vennam; Madhavi Latha; Catherine Walker; Joe Winter

  • Partner institutions

  • Institute of Education University of London

  • Centre for Narrative Research, UEL

  • Young Lives, Oxford University


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