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Theoretical reflections on narrative in action research.

Toledano, Nuria; Anderson, Alistair R.


Nuria Toledano

Alistair R. Anderson


Narrative is an important tool for developing and writing up action research experiences. Its power lies in the fact that narrative construction and narrative recounting are fundamental human communication practices. Narratives are also knowledge producing devices, since they make sense of personal experiences and share that sense-giving with others. However, the twinned duality of narrative knowing (sense-making) and narrative telling (communicating that sense) has often caused narrative as a methodological approach to be disregarded or misunderstood. Our objective is to reflect on how we can best use the narrative method in action research by paying due attention to these issues. In doing so, we consider ontologies, epistemologies and key characteristics. We argue that what has been seen as a weakness in the narrative method, its deep subjectivity, can actually be employed as an analytical strength in action research. We show how examining explanations of context, inherent in narrative processes, can provide rich insights into the meanings of phenomena.


TOLEDANO, N. and ANDERSON, A.R. 2020. Theoretical reflections on narrative in action research. Action research [online], 18(3), pages 302-318. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 22, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 22, 2017
Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 5, 2018
Journal Action research
Print ISSN 1476-7503
Electronic ISSN 1741-2617
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 302-318
Keywords Action research; Narrative method; Narrative knowing; Narrative telling; Qualitative research
Public URL


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