Breathing in the Mud: Tensions in Narrative Interviewing

Rosanne E. Beuthin

Abstract


This article explores important questions around the often taken for granted approach to interviewing within narrative inquiry. When I applied an interview approach that emphasized the dialogical, performative, and social, tensions were provoked that muddied my assumptions and equilibrium. By sharing my story, I invite readers to reflect upon the researcher’s role in interviewing. I address tensions that arose between (a) presence and performance, (b) equality and power, (c) leading and following, (d) insider and outsider, (e) influence and neutrality, and (f) trust and responsibility. I come to describe the craft of co-constructing stories with another as breathing in the mud—a dynamic process in which the researcher moves between the tensions of getting stuck in one moment and finding brilliant presence in the next. Discussion focuses on how a researcher might use tensions as catalysts that ignite clarity and advance how narrative interviewing is enacted.

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