Creative Nonfiction in Social Science: Towards More Engaging and Engaged Research

Johana Kotišová



The paper aims at identifying, explaining and illustrating the affordances of “creative nonfiction” as a style of writing social science. The first part introduces creative nonfiction as a method of writing which brings together empirical material and fiction. In the second part, based on illustrations from my ethnographic research of European “crisis reporters,” written in the form of a novel about a fictional journalist, but also based on a review of existing social science research that employs a creative method of writing, I identify several main affordances of creative nonfiction in social-scientific research. In particular, I argue that creative nonfiction allows scientists to illustrate their findings, to express them in an allegorical way, to organize data into a narrative, to let their pieces of research act in the social world, and to permeate research accounts with self-reflexive moments. I also discuss some apparent negative affordances: challenges that creative nonfiction poses to readers and to the institutionalized academic discourse. Finally, I suggest that writing about sociological problems in the style of creative nonfiction can help to produce more engaging and engaged texts, and I discuss the ethical implications of the approach.


creative nonfiction; ethics; writing; social sciences

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Copyright (c) 2019 Johana Kotišová

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: