As Richardson notes in New Writing Practices in Qualitative Research, “One form of
evocative writing is autoethnography. These are highly personalized, revealing texts in
which authors tell stories about their own lived experience, relating the personal to the
cultural” (Richardson, 2000, p. 11). Autoethnography was primarily used to situate my
relationship with the project participants in the Appreciative Reflections.
Work History Story Seen Through An Appreciative Lens
The “Appreciative Reflections” used the lens of appreciative inquiry to focus on what was
working for the individual media freelancers (see Appreciative Reflection: A Creative
Collage of Narrative Styles at end of Methodology). The larger narrative umbrella is the
work history, which captures the individual story of the participant’s freelance career path,
and is reminiscent of life history.
In Narrative Inquiry: Multiple Lenses, Approaches, Voices, Susan E. Chase notes that there
is great range in the presentation of life stories – from a full biography, to an
“autobiographical story in the person’s own words (for the complexity of these terms see
Bertaux, 1981; Frank, 2000). Yet some researchers treat the terms life history and life story
as interchangeable, defining both as birth-to-present narratives (Atkinson, 2002)” (Chase,
2005 in Denzin & Lincoln, p. 652). Chase also points out that a life story can work with
smaller increments that include a pivotal moment or turning point in one’s life (p. 652) and
that is how I interpreted the work stories. The individual stories were developed as series
of vignettes to reveal what changed, challenged or shaped the participants’ work history.
These stories captured a sense of everyday people on the employment front and left a
poignant impression of the how Americans are staying afloat. The freelancers involved with
this project are the people who toil anonymous behind the scenes and I wanted to give
them a name, face, and platform to share their story. This is a socially situated
construction where relationship is paramount to getting the story told and telling the story.
If it were not for our friendship, they would not have been included and because of our
friendship they felt more comfortable participating. Because of the strength of our
relationship, I was able to elicit a more intimate portrait of working as a freelancer.