Importance of participatory narrative inquiry in sensitive research

Ludovick Jacob Myumbo

Department of Sociology, St. Augustine University of Tanzania, Tanzania.


Keywords: Effective communication, Participatory narrative inquiry, Sensitive research, Sex work, Young rural women.


This paper engages and persuades social researchers to use Participatory Narrative Inquiry (PNI) in their sensitive social research. PNI is a pertinent approach which situates effective communication at the heart of social inquiry – it includes a form of personal interaction based on language, thought, and action which produced an appropriate climate that allows people to clarify their situation and generate personal solutions. Yet, PNI is rarely used in sensitive research. This study provides a window into its use in sensitive research from a perspective of a social researcher who has used it in exploring lived experience of young rural women who sell sex for livelihood in the suburbs of Mwanza town, in Tanzania. PNI afforded a space for a group of six young rural women who are in sex industry to tell stories so as to make sense of their complex situations and redefine themselves. PNI significantly helped the participants to speak about things that they would never have had a chance to speak about, reflect upon issues that would belong to the realm of taboo, and talk about subjects that they would not have been willing or able to speak about directly without the process of narrative inquiry.


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