This course is discontinued

SOS9222 – Narrative Analysis in the Social Sciences

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Narrative analysis has become increasingly popular in the social sciences. This course gives an introduction to narrative analysis and provides students with tools to do such analysis. It also provides an opportunity to present and get comments on own research. The course requires no prior experience in narrative analysis, and the definition of narrative analysis applied in the course is a broad one.

Course leader: Sveinung Sandberg, University of Oslo.

Jaber F. Gubrium, University of Missouri
Heith Copes, University of Alabama
Mats Börjesson, Stockholm University
Aksel Tjora, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Jan Grue, University of Oslo

Learning outcome

There are many ways to do narrative analysis. Thematic analysis focuses on the content of narratives or what is said or written, and is the most common approach in sociology. Other approaches include structural analysis studying form more than content and dialogical/performance analysis emphasizing the micro-context of narration. Researcher can also choose to either study complete narratives or fragments of narratives.

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to narrative analysis drawing on examples across humanities and the social sciences. Students will be presented for the theoretical background of narrative analysis, learn a wide set of narrative analytical strategies and be introduced to studies using narrative analysis. We also cover themes such as narratives in discourse analysis, formula and cultural stories, rhetoric, and narrative reflexivity. There will be a question-and-answer session is based on Gubrium and Holstein’s book Analyzing Narrative Reality (2009) as well as two sessions where students gets the opportunity to present and get feedback on their own research.


PhD students at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography register for the course in StudentWeb

Other interested participants can send an email to ingvild.lunde(at)


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Open for all interested PhD students.


Place: Room 201 and 221, Harriet Holters hus

All days from 09.00-17.00

Day 1, Monday 10th June
09.00-12.00: Sveinung Sandberg: Introducing Narrative Analysis
13.00-15.00: Jay Gubrium: Analyzing Narrative Reality
15.00-17.00: Question and answer session with Jay Gubrium. (Everyone will be expected to have prepared questions and comments for this session based on reading his book Analyzing Narrative Reality).

Day 2, Tuesday 11th June
09.00-11.00: Jan Grue: Narratives in Discourse Analysis
11.00-14.00: Heith Copes: Studying Formula Stories (Including 1 hour lunch break)
14.00-17.00: Presentation and discussion of student papers

Day 3, Wednesday 12th June
09.00-11.00: Aksel Tjora: Generating extraordinary narratives: Analysing personal stories from a sociological experiment
11.00-14.00: Mats Börjesson: Rhetoric and reflexivity in Narrative Analysis (Including 1 hour lunch break)
14.00-16.00: Presentation and discussion of student papers
16.00-17.00: Sveinung Sandberg: Lessons learned


Students can obtain 6 credit points, provided that they (i) hand in a draft (5 pages) of research paper by May 28th to ingvild.lunde(at) (ii) attend the lectures, presents their research paper in workshops (approx. 10 min), complete the readings, and (iii) submit the research paper within 22nd September 2013, after the end of the course. The research paper must present an narrative analysis (in the broad sense) developed by the student on a topic of his/her choosing. The format of the paper is 15-20 pages (plus appendix) in double-spaced 12pt font, with standard 2.5cm margins. It should be written in the structure of an academic article.


Students obtain 3 credit Points for handing in the research paper, attendance, presentation and completed Readings.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.


General Readings
• Gubrium, J. F. and J. A. Holstein, (2009): Analyzing Narrative Reality. Los Angeles: Sage.
• Riessman, C. K. (2008): Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Los Angeles: Sage.

Book chapters and articles
• Brookman, F. H. Copes and A. Hochstetler (2011): Street Codes as Formula Stories: How Inmates Recount Violence. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 40: 397-424.
• Börjesson, M. (2011): Making School Development Credible Text, Context, Irony. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration 15 (1): 21-39.
• Fairclough, N (1992): Text analysis: Constructing Social Relations and ‘The Self’. Pp. 137-169 in Discourse & Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.
• Loseke D. R. (2007): The study of identity as cultural, institutional, organizational, and personal narrative: theoretical and empirical integrations. Sociological Quarterly, 48(4):661–88.

Facts about this course






June 10-12 2013, 0900-1700 all three days.


Spring 2013

Teaching language