Researching the moral dimension of first-person narratives

Wren, Bernadette (2012) Researching the moral dimension of first-person narratives. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 9 (1). pp. 47-61. ISSN 1478-0887 (Print), 1478-0895 (Online)

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Research with reflexive, narrative accounts has grown in popularity within psychology, not least because it legitimates the deployment of clinical skills. These skills are often directed toward evaluating the quality and substance of narratives according to criteria that are intrinsic to models of psychological well-being and clearly relate to professionally held moral goods. I describe a tension for the clinician-researcher between, on the one hand, evaluating a narrative according to widely accepted norms of “good“ storying and, on the other, allowing the participants' own ethical logic to be privileged. Using narrative extracts from a project on parents of transgendered teenagers, I illustrate these two broad approaches to reading reflective narrative accounts. I argue that we require more studies taking a direct interest in the ordinary, unremarkable work of ethical accounting within a local moral order. Research that focuses on the moral particularity of each participant could help us both in understanding the way that ethical reasoning guides action—grasping how participants' uncertainties are expressed in the vocabulary of moral choice—and in deepening our scrutiny of the meaningfulness and relevance of our preferred clinical judgements and the ethical biases they reveal.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Available online: 14 Dec 2011
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethical Accounting, Narrative Research, Psychological Well-Being, Research Reflexivity, Transgender Adolescents
Subjects: Research, Tests, Assessments > Psychotherapy Research
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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