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Researching collective identity through stories and antestories

Trine Susanne Johansen (Department of Business Communication, Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




Situated in scholarship on narrative and antenarrative, the purpose of this paper is to develop central assumptions of an (ante)narrative approach to collective identity research and to reflexively address the methodological questions such an approach raises for producing and analysing (ante)stories. (Ante)stories include proper stories with chronology and plot as well as antestories which are fragmented and incomplete.


Based on a concrete research project exploring collective identity as narratively constructed in negotiation between organizational insiders and outsiders, emphasis is placed on elements related to the production and analysis of (ante)stories. Challenges of the applied (ante)narrative methodology are addressed focusing on three central questions: where do (ante)stories come from? Whose (ante)stories are told? And whose storied constructions of collective identity are explored?


The (ante)narrative methodology allows for a broad approach to producing and analysing (ante)stories. Consequently, it provides a rich understanding of the narrative practice of constructing collective identity. However, it also raises questions relating to the role of the researcher in the analytic process.

Research limitations/implications

Implications include the necessity of developing analytic methods that take the fragmented, incoherent and dynamic nature of storytelling into account as well as reflect the researcher as a co-teller. Moreover, it is suggested that there is a need for developing a set of alternative evaluation criteria to accompany such methods.


To present and reflexively discuss (ante)narrative as a research methodology within collective identity research.



Susanne Johansen, T. (2014), "Researching collective identity through stories and antestories", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 332-350.



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