Emotions and Narrative Analysis: A Methodological Approach



After what has been termed the affective or emotional turn in sociology and many other academic fields, there is still a dearth of methodologies for systematic empirical emotion analysis in sociology. The article addresses this gap and argues that the principles of narrative analysis can be fruitfully extended to the systematic empirical investigation of emotions. A short description of key principles and tools in narrative analysis will serve as the basis for showing how the same concepts can be used to gain access to the emotional side of human experience. To this end the article engages with philosophical debates to develop a specific theoretical notion of emotions—their narrative nature—and discusses the emotional nature of narrative. Specifically, this calls into question any clear-cut distinction between meaning and emotion. Based on this, the text then employs linguistic and some psychological and literary research to demonstrate and systematize key ways in which emotions can be expressed narratively as well as on the level of sentences and words. Together this forms an encompassing methodological framework that can capture the emotionality of human experience in its manifold forms. Specifically, this also addresses the problem of non-conscious emotions.