Relational Research as Personal Connection

Bill Randall, Professor of Gerontology at St Thomas University, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, speaks about his experience with relational research in the field that he has helped to pioneer: Narrative Gerontology. By recounting several stories from his own life – as a researcher, a teacher, a preacher (i.e., former Protestant minister), and a son to aging parents – he illustrates his deep-seated conviction about how every life has – or IS – a story, one which we are continually “composing” as author, narrator, protagonist, editor, and reader, more or less at once. Honoring that story in all its complexity and mystery, he explains, is key to connecting with others, above all with older adults. His term for such connection is Narrative Care, which he sees as being, at base, about establishing a human-to-human relationship in which storytelling, story listening, and story sharing lie at the heart, a relationship from which all parties come away, to some degree, enriched and transformed. Narrative care, he believes, is thus every bit as critical as other forms of “care” that one might practice, whether in healthcare contexts, academic classrooms, therapeutic settings, research interviews – especially qualitative ones– or, indeed, in ordinary, everyday conversation.

Bill Randall, Ed.D.

Bill is Professor of Gerontology at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada. For more information, visit Bill’s Associate page.

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