Demystifying the Analysis Process of Talk Data: A Review of Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences: Narrative, Conversation & Discourse Strategies

By Lypka, Andrea E. | The Qualitative Report, March 2017 | Go to article overview

Demystifying the Analysis Process of Talk Data: A Review of Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences: Narrative, Conversation & Discourse Strategies


Lypka, Andrea E., The Qualitative Report


In Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences: Narrative, Conversation & Discourse Strategies, Katherine Bischoping and Amber Gazso introduce three analytical approaches to talk data: narrative analysis, conversation analysis, and discourse analysis. Taking a sociological perspective, the authors engage in critical dialogue on research that employs these approaches, and provide step-by-step guide to analyzing talk data, using these strategies. They expand on introductory qualitative research concepts by taking up the complex interrelationships among epistemological, ontological, paradigmatical, and theoretical lenses that guide these analytical strategies. Through examples from a wide range of studies and their own research and advising experiences, Bischoping and Gazso articulate various analytical approaches to talk data to demonstrate the strength of these strategies in qualitative inquiry. Despite its minor shortcomings, such as its narrow focus on three analytical approaches and prevalent focus on talk data elicited in interviews, this book offers insights and strategies for students, faculty, and researchers interested in fine-tuning approaches guided by narrative analysis, conversation analysis, and discourse analysis. Keywords: Narrative Analysis, Conversation Analysis, Discourse Analysis

When I was invited to discuss my dissertation proposal a couple of weeks ago at a graduate-level qualitative research course, I noticed some students grappled with the eclectic theoretical framework and layered approach to analysis in my research. In my work, I combine the discourse analytical approach of positioning with the ethnographic method of Photovoice, informed by poststructuralist views on second language learning and social identity theory (Norton, 2013). This emergent and complex process between epistemological, ontological, theoretical, and methodological lenses was unsettling to students who aimed for a clear cut path from theory to method.

In the academic research community there is a need to contextualize available research methods at our disposal. For students and faculty in search of understanding the relationship among social scientific paradigms that inform qualitative research methods, Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences: Narrative, Conversation & Discourse Strategies, provides guidelines to make connections between larger concepts and individual work. The authors, Katherine Bischoping and Amber Gazso, Associate Professors of Sociology at York University, offer a close examination of narrative analysis, conversation analysis, and discourse analysis from a sociologist viewpoint, by clarifying the interrelationships and differences among these approaches. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this work is the contextualization of the research project in relation to the epistemological, ontological, paradigmatical, and theoretical stances selected to examine a question, an alignment that perhaps novice researchers grapple to understand.

Bischoping and Gazso adopt a broad definition of talk or discourse, "as encompassing naturally occurring, scripted talk, text, practices, ideology, and power" (p. 5). In their book, they explain analytical strategies with particular focus on talk data. Emergent between two parties in scripted interviews or natural conversation, talk data includes oral histories, including testimonio, life history, or life course interviews, narratives about turning points, everyday conversations, such as, interactions during play and announcement of news, and institutional talk, such as doctor-patient interactions, emergency calls, and qualitative research interviews.

Analyzing Talk in the Social Sciences includes three parts and 13 chapters: Analyzing Narratives (chapters two through four); Analyzing Talk-in-interaction (chapters five through eight); and Analyzing Discourse (chapters nine through 12). In each part, the authors present an overview of a method and devote a chapter to discuss strategies related to analyzing talk data in interview, a common data collection method. …

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