Participatory narrative inquiry (PNI) is an approach in which people work with stories about their experiences to make sense of situations they face so they can make decisions about them.
As a form of action research, PNI does not seek or claim to be scientifically valid. As PNI practitioners, we are more interested in the question of whether PNI is useful. Does it help communities and organizations get to the places they want to go? Does PNI help people get along better, see the world through each others’ eyes, discover new insights they can use? As a whole the approach has that potential, but whether each individual PNI project fulfills the promise of PNI depends on the way the project is carried out.
Participatory narrative inquiry has grown and matured through twenty years of research, development, and practice by Cynthia Kurtz and lots of collaborators. You can read the full history of Cynthia’s work on PNI in the “Acknowledgements and Biography” section of her book Working with Stories, which you can find on the book’s web site. This page describes Cynthia’s history building software to support PNI.