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Beyond Verbal Narratives: Using Timeline Images in the Semiotic Cultural Study of Meaning Making

Authors
  • Märtsin, Mariann1
  • 1 Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Campus, VIC Park Road, Kelvin Grove, QLD, 4059, Australia , Kelvin Grove (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Oct 24, 2017
Volume
52
Issue
1
Pages
116–128
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s12124-017-9409-3
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Contemporary semiotic cultural tradition in psychology views human meaning making as unfolding through the negotiation of multiple real and imagined scenarios and storylines. While emphasising this complex and layered nature of meaning making, this research tradition offers little methodological guidance for appreciating and evidencing this multiplicity in data analysis and interpretation. This paper suggests that a methodological approach that combines visual and verbal ways of representing one’s personal stories might offer a useful alternative for evidencing the multiple meanings that individuals create about their personal journeys. By presenting two examples of drawn timeline images and corresponding interview extracts, the paper discusses how the chosen methodological approach offered opportunities for participants to ‘show and tell’ their complex and layered stories, and gave them freedom and agency to shape the research encounter and data production processes. The paper also highlights how the incorporation of visual methods into the methodology enabled the researcher to find alternative ways of interpreting participants’ stories. The paper argues for a purposeful integration of visual and verbal methods, where the semiotic tensions and clashes between these modes can reveal novel ways of seeing researchers’ and participants’ meanings in the making.

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