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Zeitschrift für Erzählforschung / Journal of Folktale Studies / Revue d’Etudes sur le Conte Populaire

Ed. by Bönisch-Brednich, Brigitte / Stiefbold, Simone / Zimmermann, Harm-Peer

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Volume 59, Issue 1-2


Writing the Ethnographic Story: Constructing Narrative out of Narratives

Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich
  • Corresponding author
  • university professor, School of Social and Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
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Published Online: 2018-08-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/fabula-2018-0002


In this article, I analyse the ways in which ethnographers are sampling and constructing stories, how they listen, what they are hearing, and how they do stories. In short, it is asking how the fieldwork process of listening is turned into read ethnography. It retraces the various steps that are taken to transform fieldwork-infused narratives into refined ethnographic storytelling for academic audiences. I argue that, by neglecting continuously to review this space, anthropology and its related disciplines will continue to struggle to define their place in the canon of the social sciences and humanities. The ethnographer as author and as storyteller is very much at the heart of crafting the act of storytelling. The ever-evolving refinement of our methods towards narrative ethnography is in constant tension with our need and desire to be taken seriously as a social science; hence the production of ethnography is still overshadowed by the demand – imagined or real – to adhere to approved methods of production defined by methodologies of accountability.


Dieser Aufsatz versteht sich als ein Beitrag zur Analyse des ethnographischen Schreibprozesses und der Rolle von Erzählungen darin; er folgt also der Genese von Ethnographien entlang der Phasen des Zuhörens, Sammelns, Kodierens und Aufschreibens. Indem die notwendigen Entstehungsschritte von Feldforschungs-gesättigten Geschichten zum akademischen Narrativ nachvollzogen werden, zeigt sich deutlich, dass der Prozess der Analyse und des Schreibens oft nicht ausreichend reflektiert wird. Die sich ständig verfeinernden Methoden der narrativen Ethnographie bedürfen aber solcher Reflektionen, da qualitative intuitive Analyse in den Sozialwissenschaften sich im Spannungsfeld von Selbstbehauptung und Rechtfertigungsdruck befinden. Da jedoch dem narrativen Element eine zentrale Bedeutung im ethnographischen Schreiben zukommt, sollte die Diskussion von Methoden der Textproduktion sowie die Strategien der Methodenrechtfertigung immer auch Teil einer Analyse des Forschungsprozesses sein.


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-08-15

Citation Information: Fabula, Volume 59, Issue 1-2, Pages 8–26, ISSN (Online) 1613-0464, ISSN (Print) 0014-6242, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/fabula-2018-0002.

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