What can be known and how? Narrated subjects and the Listening Guide

A. Doucet, Natasha S. Mauthner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


This article grapples with the question of `what can be known?' about research subjects and how we can come to know them. Set against a backdrop of theoretical tensions over the concept of subjectivity in feminist theory, our article makes a three-fold argument. First, we argue that theoretical impasses between critical and constructed subjects can be addressed through the evolving concept of a narrated subject. Second, we suggest that this concept needs to be further interrogated by asking what can be known about narrated subjects both inside and outside of narrative. Third, we argue that greater attention must be given to how narrated subjects can be operationalized within research methodology, and we suggest that an emerging interpretive approach, the Listening Guide, provides a multi-layered way of tapping into methodological, theoretical, epistemological, and ontological dimensions of the narrated subject.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-409
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • knowing subjects
  • listening guide
  • narrated subject
  • narrative turn


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