Silke Meyer

What’s the Meaning of the Story? Narrative Analysis as a Hermeneutic Method of European Ethnology

Die Narrationsanalyse als hermeneutische Methode der Europäischen Ethnologie


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This article presents a narratological approach to the interpretation of empirical data, that is interview material about being in debts and subjective strategies of deleveraging. I analyze interview sequences by looking at means of emplotment, positioning and at narrative patterns (eg. David and Goliath) and their functions within the text. With these formal devices, narrators establish coherence in their self-conception. By creating a socially ratified story, by referencing culturally established motifs and thus by delineating a successful narrative self, they compensate their economic crisis. These acts of subjectivication, however, result in internalizing debts as personal failure and mask structural reasons of indebtedness like changing career paths, the transformation of the job markets and post-Fordist conditions of work.

Narrative, empirical methods, interview analysis, debts, subjectification