Differences and Similarities Between Discourse and Narrative Analysis

Are you a student and confused about narrative analysis? Let’s discuss in detail the differences and similarities. Discourse and narrative analysis has become one of most important themes in the social and human sciences since the start of the 20th century. These two analyses can greatly help understand the symbolic meaning behind the text or events. You can uncover many hidden truths about societies if you learn to do these two analyses.

However, most students treat the narrative and discourse as the same because they cannot identify the differences between them. In order to use these two analyses perfectly, it is important to learn the different and similar factors between them. This article will provide the differences and similarities between discourse and narrative analysis so that you can use them correctly.

Discourse Analysis:

Discourse analysis is used to study spoken or written language in relation to the social context. It focuses on understanding how a certain language is used in real-life social situations. While doing discourse analysis, you need to pay attention to the impacts and purposes of various types of language. Discourse analysis aims to focus on the interaction and look beyond a language’s simple meaning. We can study many things by using discourse analysis, such as day-to-day practice. It can also help to understand hidden practices and ideas in our daily lives. You should follow the following steps to do perfect discourse analysis:

  • The first thing is that you need to make the context.
  • You should then explore the production process.
  • Make appropriate material for your analysis.
  • Start coding the material that you have made.
  • After this, you should examine the structure of your text.
  • Gather and examine important statements.
  • You need to identify the cultural aspects in the text.

Narrative Analysis:

Narrative analysis is a type of analysis which emerged as a discipline from the field of the qualitative research method. This method is widely used in sociology and psychology. This type of analysis is referred to as the cluster of various analytical methods used to visual data and interpret texts available in the form of stories people tell to make sense of the world and organize their ideas. Stories of people are somehow purposeful and functional. Narrative analysis is used to find the purpose and function of the stories. A simple example of narrative analysis is a book report that shows the characteristics of the book, such as its plot, some important scenes, actions, and characters. That is why narrative analysis describes what happens in a story. Following are the things you need to follow to do a narrative analysis:

  • First, start by coding the narrative blocks that exist in the text
  • Group and read the story by the event
  • Create codes according to the story structures
  • After that, you need to delve into the story structures
  • Make a comparison across the story structures
  • Now tell your main narrative.

Differences Between Discourse And Narrative Analysis:

Following are the differences between these two analyses:

  • The first difference between discourse and narrative analysis is because of the nature of these two analyses. In narrative analysis, the main thing to focus on is the plot. You use linguistic devices to give an important message to a text. The narrative analysis focuses mostly on act, purpose, agency, scene and actors. Discourse, on the other hand, is the study of language which is used in the text. We focus on why this word is used in this place. We also focus on why certain pictures or numbers are used to show an observation or why a specific metaphor is used. We will question whether the language of the text is casual or formal.
  • Narrative analysis aims to study and retrieve meaningful information from a certain document. On the other hand, discourse analysis aims to study the ways and methods used in a context and texts.
  • A narrative is considered just a story that builds semantically. It helps to explain the state of things. On the other hand, discourse contains several arguments that focus on reaching a meaningful conclusion. It contains references and the use of narrative.
  • Another difference between discourse and narrative analysis is that narrative is a text form, whereas, discourse focuses on the speech. In simple words, discourse focuses on extra-linguistic factors.
  • Both discourse and narrative analysis have different benefits. Discourse can help you to uncover the reason or motivation behind content. It is because it allows seeing an issue from high stance. Studying the hidden meaning of written or spoken words is very useful. In contrast, narrative analysis can help you observe how the respondents impose their experiences by commenting on the relations between the actions and events through stories.

Similarities Between Discourse And Narrative Analysis:

Following are the similarities between these two analyses:

  • Both of these analyses can help you map the theoretical impacts of the feminist, postcolonial, postmodern and poststructuralist ideas.
  • Both discourse and narrative analysis can guide you to the most effective analytical approaches in narrative and discourse studies supported by powerful examples of analytical approaches.
  • By doing narrative and discourse analysis, you can have the opportunity to present several visual, textual, oral and other types of data.
  • These two analyses offer deeper insight into three main context areas: autobiography and life writing, gender and space and media and society.
  • Both of these two analyses act very helpful for making writing better as they force you to practice powerful writing exercises. This can lead to the promotion of creative engagement, analytical thinking, and ethical reflexivity.


In conclusion, the main difference between discourse analysis and narrative analysis is that discourse analysis looks at the surface structure of language in its spoken or written form. Meanwhile, the narrative analysis goes deeper by examining the themes and situations surrounding a story or fiction. Discourse analysis studies how people use language to convey meaning; narrative analysis examines how people create stories or fiction. Finally, discourse analysis studies real language produced in actual settings, while narrative analysis studies imaginary language in created settings.

Author Bio:

Sarah Mark is a Digital Marketer from London, United Kingdom. After her graduation in Digital Marketing in 2017, she started working with Affordable Dissertation UK, a well-known dissertation writing service provider in the UK.



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