Working across narrative media: examples from digital ...

Working across narrative media: examples from digital ...

Working across narrative media: Examples from digital narrative research NOVELLA workshop Heather Elliott and Corinne Squire NCRM Research Methods Festival 2016 www.novella.ac.uk www.uel.ac.uk In association with the University of Sussex Shape of session Outline characteristics of blog data and the fit between our

approach, research questions and data Describe Recipes for Mothering research process Introduce our narrative method Apply the method to analysis of a webpage 2 Why blogging? Why mothers? Importance of understanding the affordances and constraints of specific online platforms and formats how they evolved over time how material travels across platforms how they shape what people do how particular groups take them up (and who they

exclude) how narrative methods share characteristics across modalities 3 Mummyblogging, mothering and motherhood The blogosphere is changing how we talk about motherhood.but also who is acknowledged as having authority and credibility to be considered an expert and who is not. (Whitehead, 2014) Mommy bloggers have created a whole new conception of support and communityone that allows for a completely different way of interacting and knowing and a new understanding of mothering work. (Friedman, 2013) Talk of the intimate and everyday can be intensely individualising and as

such reflective of a new politics of motherhood as fragmented and privatised (Jensen, 2014) Increasing significance of material culture and consumption (Thomson et al, 2010) Characteristics of blogs 1

Are usually written by a single author or group with common interest Allow instant or rapid publishing Are websites containing a series of regularly updated, chronologically ordered (and sometimes, otherwise thematically ordered) posts Have an archiving system organized by date and /or other categories Often have a feedback mechanism in which readers can comment Housed by blog sites that enable easy presentation of material Usually open access, integrated into the web marketplace, and linked with other websites and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) (Adapted from Hookway, N (2008) Strategies for using blogs in social research, Qualitative Research ) 5

Characteristics of blogs 2 6 Frequent, ongoing updates Authored data voicing a self on the internet is an act of producing a

representation, an identity....Identity formation takes place through textual interaction....Internet interaction stands out as an activity where one cannot control the potential narrative transformation of a message (Altstram,2013) Often allow interaction Otten allow Instant or rapid reaction Frequently multi-modal Appear as democratic Increasingly marketised you cant tell a story on Twitter. And the reason that they had spotted my blog it had been recommended by one of the other bloggers was that I do tell a story, and they wanted storytellers and writers.

Blogs not the only narratively oriented platform but a) relatively stable contents b) not picture-led c) history as a space for narrating mothering online. 7 Sampling Criteria Middle-ranking and wellestablished blogs Written by UK-based mothers of primary school age children (4-11 years) Included a balance between visually and textually led blogs

15 total blogs sampled 2 closely examined Thinly Spread but not Snapped Diary of a Frugal Family UK Web Archive The archive contains sites that reflect the rich diversity of lives and interests throughout the UK http://www.webarchive.org.uk Instance captured: 3 October 2013

Special Collection: Blogs Subject: Society and Culture Ethical Considerations? 11 Ethical considerations in digital research

Internet research defies attempts to universalise experience or define in advance what might constitute harmful research practice (AOIR, 2012). Case and practice-based approach. Difficulties of anonymisation in present or for future (Taylor, 2016). Attention to appropriate flow of information and to contexts rather than private or public divisions. Mothers representations of everyday lives involved children explicitly and implicitly. Recipes for Mothering Ethical Practice Analysis of online identities, grounded in posts and About Me. Focus on well established blogs.

Focus on blog and not bloggers, family, or followers. Contact with bloggers to inform and open dialogue about research . Our narrative approach Focuses on material that symbolises temporal, physical, and/or causal movements that build human meaning (Andrews et al. 2013; Squire et al. 2014) Deals with accounts about particular subjects or topics (rather than theoretical, generalised accounts) Is multi-levelled: Encompasses narratives personal, interpersonal, social, cultural and political significance (Murray, 2001) Understands narrative as involving incoherence, incompleteness, multiplicity (Hyvarinen et al., 2010) and

contested meanings Encompasses oral, written, paralinguistic, bodily, visual, spatial object and activity or process data (Hyden, 2013). 15 Narrative analysis overview A. Analysis of six months posts, 09/12 02/13 B. Close analysis of About Me and two pair of emblematic posts (Pancake Day and Christmas Eve) Throughout, analysis attends to areas of conflict, contest and transgression Four different types of analysis, of: 1. Thematic narratives in and across blog posts (written and visual materials and their interactions within and across posts) (Riessman 2008; Squire 2013)

Question: What thematic progressions make up stories in and across blog posts? 2. Narrative structure of blog posts: narrative as resource not just topic (style, ordering, socio-cultural genres, post frequency/ sequencing) (Plummer 2001; Squire 2013). How do images and writing work in and across posts to generate narratives? What social and cultural genres do the blogs draw on? 3. Co-constructed narrative interactions between blog authors, comments and responses, and links, sponsorships, ads (hypernarratives). (Esin et al. 2013) How do blogs interact with different audiences (readers, other bloggers, blog administrators, commercial/policy interests) to create joint stories? 4. Narrative positions/ performances: by and for whom is the story produced, in what circumstances? What stories are not told? (Phoenix 2013; Riessman 2008) 16 How are the bloggers performing themselves as women, mothers, workers ?

Hi, My names Cass and I write The Diary of a Frugal Family which is my blog about my family. Lots of people ask me why I write this blog and I always say the same thing I write because I want to make sure that we dont forget a single one of the memories that we make as a family. Its really important to me as both my mam and my brother died of Cancer a few years ago which really brought it home to me that we should make the most of every moment that we have together. All I have of them now are my memories and a some photographs and Im determined that if anything every happens to me, my children will have as many memories and photos as possible to remember me by. My plan is to get the blog made into a book for the children when they are older so they remember all the happy times we had while they were growing up (by make into a book, I dont mean I have aspirations of being a real life writer, I just mean Ill print it out, punch holes in it and stick it in a pretty folder). The second reason is kind of linked to the first. In the spirit of making the most of every moment, I was very aware that working full time meant that I wasnt spending as much quality time as I wanted with my

children. We couldnt afford for me to drop to part time so we had to drastically change our spending habits. Were far from perfect but the changes weve made so far mean that I have now been able to afford to reduce my hours at work. Im now able to drop the kids off at breakfast club on a morning and be there again to pick them up from school which is fantastic. We still have a long way to go, some debt to pay off and a lot more money to be saved and made and I hope that youll be right here with us, following our journey. As youve probably guessed, my blog is a bit of a mish mash of family fun, money saving tips and foodie ideas with lots of cupcakes and smiley faces thrown in too. Feel free to e mail me at: [email protected] or you can tweet me and Im usually around checking in on our Facebook page if thats your thing. 17 for reading x x Thanks

Additional questions What stories about being a mother emerge in this post? What stories about feeding families emerge in this blog? How did you make sense of this blog? What resources did you draw on to analyse it? 18 Narrative structure: 78 posts over 2 month period. Lo-fi scrap-book aesthetic, snapshot image, speech features and second-person address in the writing, postcard genre. Highly worked on, online. Narrative theme 1: resource (especially economic) scarcity, tension between paid work and motherwork: In the spirit of making the most of every moment, I was very aware that working full time meant that I wasnt spending as much quality time as I wanted with my

children. We couldnt afford for me to drop to part time so we had to drastically change our spending habits. ..Im not hardcore frugal Narrative theme 2: Memorialising the family: Album image of all the family; My plan is to get the blog made into a book for the children when they are older so they remember all the happy times we had while they were growing up Narrative positioning: Image: in family; addressing the readers. Writing: intimate, nonprofessionalised, informal: by make into a book, I dont mean I have aspirations of being a real life writer, I just mean Ill print it out, punch holes in it and stick it in a pretty folder) Narrative co-construction: Imagined audiences of other mothers, other women, other bloggers, blogsite administrators, brand and charity readers. Hypernarrative: links to social media, sponsors and advertisers. (25 out of 42 posts in one month are clearly sponsored/involve gifts)

I like to let the kids think that Im the Domestic Goddess who came up with them. Recipe: Melt the butter and allow to cool a little. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Beat the eggs, milk and melted butter together and pour it into the flour mixture. Stir until its lump free. Heat some butter into a frying pan and spoon a big dollop of the mixture into the hot pan. Perfect with homemade chocolate sauce (warmed Nutella mixed with a little milk) and squirty cream: I used to hate Pancake Day, mainly because I cant flip a pancake to

save my life and my efforts to make a pancake usually ended up in a scrambled egg style mush at the bottom of the pan! But then I tried making fluffy pancakes (like the ones they sell in McDonalds) and ever since then my pancake making skills have improved considerably! Theyre really easy to make and although theyre actually based on a Nigella recipe, I like to let the kids think that Im the Domestic Goddess who came up with them. Frugal Family Blog Some conclusions Interrelations between and relative autonomy of textual, image and other narratives Complexities of multiple and conflictual everyday narratives, within all narrative media. Zones of negotiation: Everyday narratives around food, families

and pleasure, and food, families and environment, that negotiate resource constraint narratives around money, time, and health, as well as narratives about motherhood, personhood, and work, and that are not habitual aspects of political and policy narratives around families and austerity. Implicit narratives of blogs themselves as emotional, social and economic labour, but also resources, related to other forms of 22 labour and resources.

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