Methodology: Ecologies of Nested Narratives


  • This is an attempt to make sense of the emerging methodology of Nested Narratives, within a more explicit ecological framework. It could do with a plain language translation, perhaps, but this is where it is today ...


The Nested Narratives (NN) methodology is centred around two quite distinct protocols, an executive protocol, and a theoretical and methodological protocol; the two protocols are intertwined, but analytically and operationally quite distinct.

As far as the process of enabling sense making is concerned, the narrator already knows (or has potential, tacit, awareness of) all they need to know.

The narrator has no need of the methodological and theoretical protocols, and in fact this is more likely than not to make their ontological sense making impossible (see below for the reasons why).

The narrators are simply requested to tell a story about something, to respond to prompted requests for further details, and to engage in extending their sense making through interactive multimedia – if they so wish.

The theoretical and methodological protocols for ontological reflection and sense making are based on the following powerful attractors for sense making:

Unrehearsed voice: voice is rich, synaesthesic, cross modal (analogue/digital), inner (parole as opposed to langue), gestalt. There are many resonances to voice, some literally internal, some subconscious, some in the material context/s, some in a range of social ecologies.

Centre of gravity/ energy: the centre of energy for sense making in NN is situated within the narrator, who acts as a subject/s within several social ecologies – (tr: many identities within many discourses). This centre is defined by the narrators own, dynamic gestalt.

Timeless: The narrators sense making is timeless. It extends in memory, associations and desires as far out (backwards and outwards) as the narrator wishes, and continues for as long as it is useful for the narrator. It is unlikely to be a continuous process.The researcher sees only part of the sense making process, which may continue, and should be able to continue, beyond the timeframe and the scope of the research process.

The primary observatory: contrary to most, if not all other research methodologies, the primary observatory is sited /sighted within the narrator, not the researcher.

The facilitator/observer: The researcher’s role is split:
  1. Enabler: the researcher enables the narrator to make sense of how they are being in the world
  2. Observer of sense making: the researcher observes the narrator’s ontological sense making, of how they are being in the world.
  3. Making research sense: The researcher may make sense of the narrator’s sense making in several ways, for instance:
  • Ontological: The researcher may act collaboratively with one or more narrators, to extend the process of ontological sense making.
  • Analytical: The researcher may analyse one or more narrator’s sense making, to produce an analytical account.

Data: The primary data is the way the narrator makes sense of how they are being in the world. The secondary data is the way the researcher makes sense of the narrator's sense making.

Being and becoming in the world:
The central task for the narrator is to make sense of how they are being in the world, not what they are being in the world. This is inseparable from how they have become to be in the world in that way: simply, a description of how it all happened.

Narratives of sense making: The narratives of sense making may appear to be narratives in the conventional sense of the word, as they are based on description, and the nested micro-narratives are often sparked by, and grounded in, descriptions of actual events.

However, the core narratives of sense making are the product of an iterative series of interactions between what happened in the world and how the narrator was being in the world and how, when this process progresses through time, the way the narrator is being in the world changes, adapts, shifts, grows, contracts, and so on.

An unfolding Heideggerian narrative evolution?

Access: The narratives are the narrator’s, although the researchers have access for anonymized research purposes. Permission for providing access to the narratives outside of the research is entirely within the narrators gift, not the researcher’s.