Biographical Research : Challenges and Creativity book cover
1st Edition

Biographical Research
Challenges and Creativity

Edited By

Ana Caetano


Magda Nico

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 31, 2022
ISBN 9781032147222
March 31, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
226 Pages

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Book Description

Studying people’s lives requires acknowledging the multiple entanglements between individual singularity and processes of social patterning. This book testifies how challenging and creative the study of these connections can be. It gathers international contributions that show, in imaginative ways, how a person’s life or specific domains of existence can be observed, tackled, and analysed, across time.

This volume reveals the potential of biographical research in the production of social theory, in the development of methodological innovation, in giving voice and protagonism to people, and in the understanding of the social unfolding of their lives. It is a testimony of a vibrant and youthful field, with a long tradition in social sciences, and with numerous connections with other study areas, namely the life course approach. The different chapters illustrate how the challenges posed by this type of research focused on the individual level of analysis are particular and what creative responses are required to continue analysing the link between biography and society.

The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Contemporary Social Science.

Table of Contents


Ken Plummer

1. Forever young: creative responses to challenging issues in biographical research

Ana Caetano and Magda Nico

Part 1: The Production of Social Theory Through and Beyond the Biography’s Singularity

2. Sociological biography and socialisation process: a dispositionalist-contextualist conception

Bernard Lahire

3. Tapping and assessing the concept of educational regret: methodological techniques for opening up biographical reflection

Pamela Aronson and Matthew Fleming

4. Subjects analysing subjects in the biographical approach: a generational study of Chilean musicians

Camila Moyano Dávila and Francisca Ortiz Ruiz

Part 2: Methodological Rivalries, Affairs and Openness

5. Using reflexive lifelines in biographical interviews to aid the collection, visualisation and analysis of resilience

Jane Gray and Jennifer Dag

6. Self-administered event history calendars: a possibility for surveys?

Davide Morselli, Jean-Marie Le Goff and Jacques-Antoine Gauthier

7. There is more than one way – a study of mixed analytical methods in biographical narrative research

Marta Eichsteller

Part 3: Giving the Floor, Sharing Voices, Creating Harmonies

8. Creative biographical responses to epistemological and methodological challenges in generating a deaf life story telling instrument

Goedele A. M. De Clerck

9. Migrants’ lives matter: biographical research, recognition and social participation

Elsa Lechner

10. Facilitating the voice of disabled women: the biographic narrative interpretive method (BNIM) in action

Christine Peta, Tom Wengraf and Judith McKenzie

Part 4: The Social Unfolding of Individual Lives

11. Searching for pearls: ‘Doing’ biographical research on Pearl Jephcott

John Goodwin

12. A moment of biographical analysis under the microscope: reading Felipe’s autobiographical narrative

Me-Linh Hannah Riemann

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Ana Caetano is Researcher at the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-Iscte) and Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Research Methods at Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon. She has been developing biographical research to study personal reflexivity, biographical crises, and triangulation.

Magda Nico is Sociologist, Researcher at the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-Iscte), and Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Research Methods at Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon. She is interested in life course theory and methods, and longitudinal research.