Working with Stories in Your Community Or Organization: Participatory Narrative Inquiry

Front Cover
Kurtz-Fernhout Publishing, 2014 - Fiction - 674 pages

Working with Stories is a textbook for people who want to use participatory narrative inquiry (PNI) in their communities and organizations. PNI methods help people discover insights, catch emerging trends, make decisions, generate ideas, resolve conflicts, and connect people.

Participatory narrative inquiry draws on theory and practice in narrative inquiry, participatory action research, oral history, mixed-methods research, participatory theatre, narrative therapy, sensemaking, complexity theory, and decision support. Its focus is on the exploration of values, beliefs, feelings, and perspectives through collaborative sensemaking with stories of lived experience.


  • Introduction
  • Fundamentals of Story Work
    • What Is a Story?
    • What Are Stories For?
    • How Do Stories Work?
    • Stories in Communities and Organizations
  • A Guide to Participatory Narrative Inquiry
    • Introducing Participatory Narrative Inquiry
    • Project Planning
    • Story Collection
    • Group Exercises for Story Collection
    • Narrative Catalysis
    • Narrative Sensemaking
    • Group Exercises for Narrative Sensemaking
    • Narrative Intervention
    • Narrative Return
  • Appendices
    • Example Models and Templates for Group Exercises
    • Further Reading: Your PNI Bookshelf
    • Bibliography
    • Acknowledgements and Biography
  • Glossary
  • Index

Reader praise

"I wanted to say thanks for making Working with Stories available. It's an amazing piece of work, so simple (not the ideas, but the presentation) and unintimidating."

"[Working With Stories] is very thorough and helpful to me in exploring ways that I might capture the narrative of a project I am involved in."

"Your detailed description of [the sensemaking] process is so useful and helpful. It makes seasoned facilitators like me yearn to try out the ideas."

"Over the past few months I have been reading, reflecting, and feasting on your experiences working with stories. I am really excited to have found Working With Stories because it seems like a rich set of options for our needs."

"Your terminology and explanation of participatory narrative inquiry have helped me greatly in understanding what I want from my practice and what I might be capable of achieving in social change."

"I have been returning to Working With Stories time and again over the past six months to help support a community project, and my printed copy is underlined, noted and dog-eared."

About the author (2014)

Cynthia F. Kurtz is a researcher and consultant who has been helping communities and organizations work with their stories since 1999. She has consulted on more than eighty narrative projects for a variety of government agencies and for-profit and non-profit corporations. Working with a series of collaborators, she developed an approach to story work that helps communities and organizations make better, more grounded decisions by making sense of their own stories. She is widely considered a leader in the field of organizational and community narrative. Cynthia lives in upstate New York with her husband, son, dog, cat, forest, and stories.

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