The aim of this presentation is to examine how the utilisation of the VCR method of analysis illuminates both the participant’s self and the researcher’s self in narratives told and narratives written. Utilising data from PhD research on Irish mother’s experiences of marital breakdown; this paper will explore how the VCR method of analysis was used to uncover the self among the collectivity of different voices that compose the narrative of any given person.
The VCR method of analysis revolves around four readings of the interview text, each time listening to and highlighting particular aspects of the narrative, which facilitates each of the participant’s transcripts being considered from a number of different perspectives. The method specifically focuses on how the participant experiences, feels and speaks about themselves in the context of the world in which they live by amplifying the multiplicity of voices that exist in any given narrative. In addition, it places participant’s accounts and experiences within broader social, political, cultural and structural contexts allowing the examination of such forces from the subjective perceptions of the participants. By tracing the ‘different voices’ of the participant the reader/listener can identify changes in how the participant perceives and experiences themselves and enables the social location and sense of agency of the participant to be highlighted (Mauthner and Doucet, 1998).
Embedded within the VCR method is the recognition of the impact of the researchers own background and experiences; which highlights the need for a system of reflexivity where the importance of self-awareness, cultural awareness and ownership of one’s own perspective is emphasised (Patton, 2002). The importance of being reflexive is widely acknowledged within the qualitative social science research community and there is widespread recognition that interpretation of data is a reflexive exercise through which meanings are made rather that found (Mauthner and Doucet, 1998; Byrne et al., 2004). In order to address this difficulty VCRM places significant prominence on researcher reflexivity, particularly in terms of the impact of the researcher’s social location and personal history on responses to participant’s stories and experiences (Mauthner and Doucet, 1998). According to Byrne et al (2004) VCRM also utilises a “relational approach to the process of research inquiry, defined by paying attention to who is listening as well as who is speaking” (Byrne et al, 2004 p.22) and it through this process that the ‘self’ of the researcher is identified.
The fact that the VCRM approach explores “individuals’ narrative accounts in terms of their relationships to themselves, their relationships to the people around them and their relationships to the broader social, structural and cultural contexts in which they live” (Mauther and Doucet, 1998) and takes account of researcher reflexivity it is a method that is particularly suited to highlighting how the self of both the participant and the researcher feature in any given narrative.