What is Narrative Analysis? Types, Methods & Examples

If you’re researching, you must know how important narrative analysis is. Many researchers begin with qualitative methods of data collection. However, there are many research methods, and choosing the right one can be overwhelming.

But with narrative analysis, you can get better results and clear insights. Narrative analysis is a qualitative research methodology in which you learn more about the audience.

But how?

Through understanding their stories, experiences, and how it’s changing their lives. The narrative analysis can be in the form of visual media, interviews, texts, etc.

But that’s not enough to understand narrative analysis. That’s why in this blog, we’ll explore more about this topic, its type, characteristics, and much more. Not only this, we’ll also share a step-by-step guide on how you can get started with it.

So, let’s dive into it.

What is Narrative Analysis?

Narrative analysis is a systematic and interpretive approach used to study and understand narratives, essentially stories or accounts of events, experiences, or interactions. This method involves examining the structure, content, and context of narratives to uncover underlying themes, patterns, and meanings.

It’s used by researchers analyzing social sciences, psychology, business, communication studies, and more.

Let’s understand it better with an example.

Imagine you are a market researcher working for a company that wants to understand customer perceptions of a new product launch.

How can you use this research approach here?

In this case, you can use narrative analysis to explore the stories and individual experiences customers share. These can be reviews, comments, online posts shared by customers, blogs, and relevant content.

Simply put, you search and understand the views of your customers by analyzing their narratives.

Types of Narrative Analysis

To do the narrative analysis, you should understand its types. These play a crucial role in ensuring you choose the ideal approach for business success.

Content Analysis

In this form of analysis, the content of the narrative is carefully examined to find motifs, patterns, and various themes. Many researchers use the coding process to find these themes. But why should you use coding themes?

It’s because manually all this work can take a lot of time. Accuracy is also compromised. That’s where automation helps.

It can identify trends, common themes, and patterns within text. Then, categorize, analyze, and find how they are relevant to each other.

Structural Analysis

In this type of analysis, the formal structure is studied deeper. So what does it include? It includes:

  • Plot
  • Development of character
  • Use of literary devices

So, as a researcher, you may analyze the narrative arc, such as the connection between the main lead and characters, the usage of figurative language, and symbolism. It shows how the narrative is made and how the audience perceives it.

Discourse Analysis

There are two major things involved in discourse analysis. These are:

Discourse Analysis = Language + Discourse In Narrative

It also includes social, economic, and cultural phenomena. So, what does a researcher do in this?

They analyze words, phrases, terms, tone, and narrative style. 

Phenomenological Analysis

The subjective experience of the narrator is a prime focus in this analysis. It includes how the narrator interprets experience and shares it with others.

The researcher analyzes the language used to tell the emotions or how the narrator adds meaning to the stories. This analysis is important in understanding how people understand their lives and experiences.

Critical Analysis

In this analysis, different subjects are studied deeply, such as political, social, economic, or ideological points of view. It goes one step ahead by even checking the assumptions and key elements of the narrative.

Researchers analyze how a narrative reflects or changes structures that are extremely dominant.


Personal narratives are used to find cultural experiences and how identities are formed. In this analysis, researchers use their personal experiences to evaluate and explore various issues such as:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexuality

These are further used to understand how structures shape the personal experiences of every individual. In short, the journey of how a person’s identity is shaped due to social and cultural norms.

Thematic Analysis

This method involves the analysis of themes and patterns that arise from data. Then, further, use them to interpret with respect to specific questions.

Researchers can also use deductive reasoning to get accurate data.

Characteristics of Narrative Analysis

Now, let’s look at some of the major characteristics of narrative analysis that you must know. This powerful tool will help you analyze better and get accurate results.

  • Narrative-Centric Focus: Narrative analysis is all about looking at stories and narratives. No matter if they’re spoken or written. We want to understand how these stories affect people’s experiences and who they are.
  • Context Matters: It’s important to know the context or situation in which these stories are told. It helps us understand why they’re told and what they mean in a specific place or time. Most importantly, social and cultural factors are involved in it.
  • Interpreting Life Stories: This implements an analytical approach to find patterns, broader themes, and motifs in the story and narratives. It helps in understanding the meaning that people and societies attach to narratives.
  • Iterative process: It is an ongoing, iterative process where researchers continually refine their understanding of the narratives. But how do they do it? By continuously examining more data.
  • Usage of Language: Language, words, imagery, and narrative structure play a crucial role in the narrative analysis. That’s why researchers should pay attention to the language.

Purpose of Narrative Analysis

You might read different stories, but the major question is, what’s the purpose of narrative analysis?

Yes, you can understand patterns, motifs, and themes, but what’s next?

The primary purpose of this is to identify the experiences with whom people attach their feelings. For that, researchers dive deeper into the story that tells them about the narratives.

Let’s understand it with this example.

Imagine a global company that’s facing challenges with its company culture. They’re experiencing high employee turnover and reduced productivity. The company’s HR department decided to use narrative analysis to understand the root causes of these issues and identify potential solutions. So here’s what they do:

  • Conduct confidential interviews and gather internal documents.
  • Identify recurring themes like poor communication and management issues.
  • Discover common dissatisfaction themes linked to communication and management problems.
  • Place narratives in the context of organizational changes and external conditions.
  • Find consistency in issues across the organization.

After collecting all this information, it’s time to move to the last step. This report is made with recommendations for targeted communication and leadership training to improve company culture and employee retention. That’s how you can use narrative analysis for your business. You can use AI tools like Luminoso to automate processes. It will save a lot of your time and effort.

Step-by-step Guide to Narrative Analysis

This systematic process involves a step-by-step approach. Only then you’ll be able to interpret narratives accurately. Here’s a detailed explanation of the process that you should follow.

Step 1: Data Collection

It is the first step in which researchers collect narratives that they have to analyze. But where do these narratives come from?

These narratives can be from different forms, such as in-depth interviews, written text, audio, videos, and relevant forms of media. The selection of narrative is also extremely crucial because it’s based on the objectives and goals of the analysis topic.

Step 2: Data Transcription

Some narratives are not written properly. They are in non-written forms, i.e., recordings, videos, and audio.

Remember that in this step, you should transcribe the information properly.

They should capture tones, words, pauses, and all verbal and non-verbal cues that add value to the narrative.

Step 3: Data Coding & Categorization

Now, researchers have to analyze the text. But how?

By breaking it into different segments and codes. These codes are tags applied to specific narratives relevant to a trend, idea, or theme.

You can choose to do this step either manually or with the help of software like Luminoso.

Step 4: Interpretation & Thematic Analysis

After coding the data, the next step is properly interpreting these segments. Researchers evaluate the narratives and understand different codes:

  • Meanings
  • Connection
  • Relations

That’s where you should use thematic analysis. Group relevant codes to identify themes. Contextual analysis is also important in this. Dive deeper into the broader context of narrative and how it influences people.

Step 5: Comparison & Contrasting:

Comparing different narratives is crucial, but is it really necessary?


This way, you can deeply understand the meaning of context. It involves identifying similarities and dissimilarities in stories and people. With comparisons, you can understand underlying themes, perceptions, and experiences.

Step 6: Theoretical Framework

Implementing a theoretical framework is dependent on the goals of your research. It’s often used in fields such as psychology, literary analysis, and sociology to draw existing theories and model them.

Step 7: Reliability & Reporting

Ensuring that your analysis is reliable and accurate is a key factor in your research success. You can use techniques such as:

  • Inter-Coder Reliability: Researchers employ this method to maintain consistency in the deductive coding and interpretation process. Multiple analysts independently assess and interpret a portion of the data to ensure agreement and accuracy.
  • Triangulation: To enhance the credibility of findings, researchers use multiple data sources or research methods. This approach provides a comprehensive and well-rounded perspective on the topic under analysis, reducing the risk of bias and error.

After following all the steps, it’s time to complete the report and present findings based on your analysis. This report includes your research process, themes, patterns that you have observed, and what are the implications you get from this analysis.

Advantages of Narrative Analysis

Here are some of the advantages of analysis of narrative. Remember, it’s a valuable tool for researchers and professionals to gain a deeper understanding of different topics.

  • Rich, Contextual Insights: Narrative analysis provides rich, contextually grounded, valuable insights into the experiences, perspectives, and beliefs of individuals and communities. It helps researchers understand the “how” and “why” behind stories.
  • Holistic Understanding: Narrative analysis offers a broader understanding of narratives by examining content, structure, and context. It helps in uncovering the deep layers of meaning embedded in stories.
  • Interdisciplinary Application: It is a cross-disciplinary method, meaning it can be applied in fields as diverse as literature, human sciences psychology, human communication, anthropology, and healthcare, fostering interdisciplinary research.
  • Captures Complexity: It allows for the exploration of complex, multifaceted narratives. It is especially valuable when dealing with diverse, real-life situations that quantitative data alone might oversimplify.
  • Human-Centered: It focuses on human experiences and the stories they tell. This human-centered approach is beneficial in fields where a nuanced understanding of the perspectives of individuals is crucial.


Narrative analysis is an insightful method to explore different stories, find meaning behind them, and understand how they define the world. It is applicable in almost every field. It opens endless opportunities for researchers.

However, many ethical considerations should always be addressed. Either way, by exploring the narratives, you can shape people’s lives and achieve business success.

Overall, its purpose is to provide a rich understanding of methods through which you understand how meanings are constructed.

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