Understanding lived experiences through inclusive lens of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and Narrative Analysis (NA)


  • Anna Kimberley Haaga-Helia UAS




Keywords: Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, Interpretive Poetics, Narrative Analysis


The paper presents the findings of a PhD study carried out and completed in 2021. The study adopted Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and elements of Narrative Analysis (NA) as an inclusive methodological approach to investigate and understand the experiences of educated professionals of African origin living in Finland. Through the voices of ten participants (five females and five males) in semi-structured interviews, the study provides insights into the experiences of the participants and created a basis for new hybrid epistemologies through a reconceptualisation of Western working cultures and discourses.


The study makes several contributions. Within postcoloniality, it contributed to a discussion on the postcolonial interrogative space as well as postcolonial identity by proposing concepts such as ‘duality of being’, ‘belonging ambivalence’, and ‘validation ambiguity’. Within social studies, the study reconceptualised the notion of positive identity validation. Regarding sensemaking, the study contested the claim that individuals change and adopt various identities according to the demands of different situations. Instead the study  proposes  that  the sense of self, performance, and representation of  identity are interrelated, and  influenced by power.


As the study was carried out by a culturally diverse researcher (not purely western and sharing socio-historical commonalities with the participants), it also disrupted epistemic colonisation and cultural imperialism.


Methodologically, the study widened the application of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis primarily used in psychology. By combining IPA with elements of interpretive poetics borrowed from NA, it showed how IPA can be combined with other methodological tools. This will hopefully encourage researchers from other fields, not only practitioners of psychology, to apply IPA in their studies.