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Journal Article

The Long, Brown Path Before me’: Story Elicitation and Analysis in Identity Studies  pp96-106

Ali Rostron

© Nov 2014 Volume 12 Issue 2, ECRM 2014, Editor: Ann Brown, pp75 - 167

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Abstract: This paper makes a renewed case for the value of the interview as a method for investigating the workplace identities of organisational actors. In particular it addresses interpretivist criticism that interviews merely tell us how the actor would like to be seen, rather than how they behave in practice. Adopting a narrative approach, the method combines story elicitation with analysis based on Levi‑Strauss' concept of mythical thought, in which stories are analysed to not only reveal individual self‑narratives but an underpinning social landscape constructed of selected oppositions within which the individual positions themselves. The paper illustrates the method and its potential by presenting the detailed analysis of one team leader's elicited story. It demonstrates how the method allows not only insight into the team leader's self‑identity but insight into ongoing processes of identity work, by revealing the social landscapes that they construct, the discursive resources they select, reject, challenge and struggle with, and how they position themselves in relation to those resources through narrative. The revealed social landscape and narrative positioning also generates new insight into the particular organisational position of the team leader and the tensions inherent in their position between staff and the organisation.


Keywords: Keywords: narrative, mythic thought, interviews, identity, discourse, managers


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