Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 61–73 | Cite as

Demographic Storytelling: The Importance of Being Narrative

  • Debra Renee KaufmanEmail author

Anthropologist Gregory Bateson tells a story about a computer which, having been programmed to respond precisely as would a human, was asked by the programmer how it could be determined that its responses were actually those characteristic of a human. There was a pause and then a whirring of spindles before the computer finally responded with a print out which began, ‘That reminds me of a story….’ (Reck 1993).

Storytelling is not only what makes the computer human; it is also about the meaning of “social” in the social sciences. Narratives are critical to how we acquire data and how we produce knowledge from that data. They are an indispensable part of scientific, systematic research—whether we are quantitative or qualitative in our approach. The historiography of Jewish identity research will show that feminist and post-positivist critiques have encouraged a wide range of narratives among social scientists about methods of analyses aimed particularly at understanding identity from the...


Jewish Identity Jewish People Demographic Research Identity Narrative Italic Mine 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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