Biographical Research in Eastern Europe: Altered Lives and Broken Biographies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Biographical Research in Eastern Europe

Altered Lives and Broken Biographies, 1st Edition

By Robert Miller

Edited by Robin Humphrey


340 pages

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Paperback: 9781138722170
pub: 2019-09-30
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This title was first published in 2003. The transition from socialism experienced by the countries of Eastern and Central Europe during the last decade has been recognised as a profound historical watershed. It is only now, however, that the meanings and dimensions of 'post-socialism' are becoming apparent. The use of the 'biographical perspective' in research provides a unique avenue for studying these changes. Biographical Research in Eastern Europe is the only edited volume that brings the work of many of the most advanced and active biographical researchers working on Eastern Europe together in one volume. The book is organized into four parts. 'The Potential of Biographical Research,' explores the methodological issues. Arguments for the appropriateness of the biographical approach as a humanistic perspective are put forward and emphasis is laid on its fruitfulness for research into everyday lives and for the study of identity construction with particular reference to transition. 'Communists, Informers and Dissidents,' deals with the structural features of Soviet regimes, with a particular focus on the problematic divisions between public and private spheres of life. 'The Impact of Social Change,' demonstrates the value of the biographical approach as an instrument for the study of social and cultural change. 'Exile, Migration and Ethnicity,' centres on the problem of constructing and maintaining ethnic identities under repression; a context that can be seen as disturbing life-trajectories and framing the life story. Covering a wide range of 'post-socialist' countries, the chapters are unified by a common research perspective and an informative introduction that identifies common themes across the selections.


’This book is of major importance to anyone interested in the profound social changes across Eastern Europe as witnessed through individual and group lives. The editors and contributors are leading figures in the field of biographical study and have produced a series of articles which are notable for a methodological richness and theoretical insight which enables a deeper understanding of the complexities of social life within deep societal transition.’ Dr Brian Roberts ’Biographical Research in Eastern Europe proposes deep and comprehensive studies of real human histories. The worlds of pain and betrayal, friendship and solidarity, state pressure and individual resistance are presented here. The book provides both sociological and historical approaches to the Eastern European transformations and of their influence on individual lives and identities. It can be an invaluable source of reflexive and humanistic social knowledge.’ Irina Tartakovskaia, Institute for Comparative Labor Studies, Russia ’This edited book forms an interesting and varied contribution to both biographical research in Russia and Eastern Europe specifically and biographical research more generally…it [is] a valuable contribution to historical understandings of personal experiences of Communism and transition.’ Cultural and Social History ’This book offers a lively palette of recent and current research on Eastern Europe.’ Contemporary Sociology

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: biographical research and historical watersheds, Robert Miller, Robin Humphrey and Elena Zdravomyslova. The Potential of Biographical Research: Context, authenticity, referentiality, reflexivity: back to basics in autobiography, J.P. Roos; The usefulness of life stories for a realist and meaningful sociology, Daniel Bertaux; Three dimensions of biographical narratives, Valery Golofast. Communists, Informers and Dissidents: Estonian- inclined communists as marginals, Aili Aarelaid-Tart; Portrayals of past and present selves in the life stories of former Stasi informers, Barbara Miller; Czech dissidents: a classically modern community, Vladimir Andrle; Anti-Soviet biographies: the dissident milieu and its neighbouring milieux, Sofia Tchouikina; The café Saigon Tusovka: one segment of the informal-public sphere of late-Soviet society, Elena Zdravomyslova. Exile, Migration and Adapting to Social Change: Living the life: exile in the experience of the Polish Intelligentsia, John A. Jackson; Biographical continuities and discontinuities in East-West migration before and after 1989. Two case studies of migration from Romania to West Germany, Roswitha Breckner; Trajectories of coping strategies in Eastern Germany, Olaf Struck; Inequality and exclusion in the history of poor Slovak families, Zuzana Kusá. Ethnicity and Sexuality: Different generations of Leningrad Jews in the context of public/private division: paradoxes of ethnicity, Viktor Voronkov and Elena Chikadze; Shame, promiscuity and social mobility in Russian autobiographies from poor working-class milieux, Anna Rotkirch; The construction of sexual pleasure in women’s biographies, Anna Temkina; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Robert Miller, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Director, Centre for Social Research, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland Robin Humphrey, Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, Elena Zdravomyslova, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Sociology, European University, St Petersburg and Research Co-ordinator, Centre for Independent Social Research, St Petersburg, Russia

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General