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The narrative approach in research and its use for policy advice

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Recent developments in Europe show that policymakers acknowledge the role of qualitative research in evidence building. A number of qualitative research studies, including narrative inquiry, have been contracted out to gather information into selected policy issues. The management of career transitions and lifelong learning has become a focus of research and policy interest in many countries. Based on the findings of two Cedefop studies, which included the collection of narrative interviews among mid-career adults in several European countries, this article argues in favour of narrative inquiry as a tool to inform policymakers and influences policies, for example in the field of career guidance and counselling and lifelong learning. A selection of narratives is provided as an example to show how unique situated knowledge within the context of mid-career adults’ life is influenced by existing policies or implies that policies need to be changed. By providing snapshots of the findings from these two studies and exemplify their informative value for policy, the article advocates for the usefulness of narrative inquiry. The presentation of qualitative data humanises the commonly found statistical representations of individuals’ life circumstances and enables imagination and meaning making.
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Keywords: Narrative inquiry; guidance and counselling; lifelong learning; policy advice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Research & Development, Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut (EHB) Forschung und Entwicklung Kirchlindachstr, Zollikofen, Switzerland

Publication date: July 4, 2018

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