Griffin, A.,and May, V. (2012). Narrative Analysis and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Summary)

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis is a method used to interpret peoples’ experiences. This method is heavily influenced by Hermeneutics, which views all communication as interpretation. IPA places the researcher as a storyteller, or more of a narrator to the participants’ story. Therefore, the importance is not necessarily on avoiding researcher bias, but on explicitly illuminating it for interpretive context. I will be using IPA to analyze how people in general are experiencing the issue of vandalism/visitor damage. This chapter presents two methods that focus on the role that language plays in social interactions. This chapter is especially important for my research interest in experiencing cultural institutions. An important consideration for data collection is the link between power and narrative. This relates to the influence a researcher may have as an expert on a topic.

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) looks at individual accounts of experience. This perspective stems from the hermeneutic philosophy, that all communication is a form of interpretation. This is the reconstruction of experience through social research. This perspective is idiographic, in that it explores specific contexts rather than broad generalizations of experience. IPA places the informant as the expert knower, rather than the researcher. One very important part of this analysis is that the researcher includes an epoche statement, which confesses the expectations and assumptions the researcher has on the issue. This helps to present the researcher as part of the individuals’ reconstruction of their experience.

One important consideration the chapter discusses for IPA that the contextual information of life outside of a specific experience might have important influence on the specific personal experience. These might relate to an individual’s biological predispositions, social status, or psychology.  For this reason, a one-on-one interview is recommended, rather than a format such as a questionnaire. Personally, I would argue against collecting unnecessary demographic information, since this is unmotivating for research participants. But for IPA, that sort of information is essential, especially in an elaborated interview format. This will be addressed in follow-up interviews after the initial probe. Data is analyzed through constant revisiting and immersion. The chapter uses an example of a three-column method where each line or a narrative can be broken down by description and interpretation. This is useful for looking at what is said, and how it is said.

Griffin, A., & May, V. (2012). Narrative Analysis and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. In C. Seale (Ed.), Researching Society and Culture (3rd ed, pp. 441–458). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


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