The Narrative and Identity Research Group (NIRG) at UCSC

Narrative theory and methods have a long history at UC Santa Cruz. Social psychologist and early faculty member Ted Sarbin was one of the pioneer promoters of narrative psychology in the 1980s, with his landmark volume Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct. When Avril Thorne joined the faculty in 1991, her innovative approach to studying personal memory-telling and personality development offered the opportunity for cross-area collaboration on narrative. In the 2000s, narrative psychologists Phillip Hammack and Aaronette White added a new dimension to narrative inquiry in the department, with an emphasis on social identity, power, and cultural variability. Several faculty across areas engage with narrative inquiry or qualitative methods more broadly.

The Narrative and Identity Research Group (NIRG) formed in 2003 when Sarbin and Thorne joined forces to hold workshops in which students and faculty presented narrative data and jointly discussed analytic and interpretive issues. Since its inception, NIRG has been a unique space for students and faculty across areas in Psychology and in other departments on campus to discuss their narrative data, offer suggestions for analysis and interpretation, and discuss the merits of qualitative inquiry.

NIRG continues to serve as a workshop to discuss narrative data (e.g., conversations, interviews, monologs). It is meant to be an informal and supportive space where we can get together to talk through actual data. Students or faculty designing a study, developing coding or interpretive approaches, or excited to share data recently collected are encouraged to participate and to indulge their curiosities about narrative theory and methods. We welcome involvement from students and faculty in any area of psychology, and as well as other disciplines.

For questions about NIRG or to be added to the NIRG email announcement list, please contact Erin Toolis (