Using Biographical Methods in Social Research provides an informative, comprehensive, accessible and practical guide to the nature and use of biographical methods, combining a consideration of theoretical issues with practical guidance as well as reflections on the personal experience of doing research.
Barbara Merrill and Linden West consider important questions about who and what research is for and what makes it valid, alongside the practical business of interviewing, transcribing, analyzing and writing up of biographical data. The authors draw on their sociological and psychological orientations to provide a truly interdisciplinary approach to the subject, and provide numerous examples of biographical research across the social sciences.
This book will equip students with all the skills necessary to undertake biographical research as well as to fully understand what they are doing and the assumptions they make about the nature of truth, knowledge, story telling and being human. It will be useful for students and researchers using biographical methods in a range of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, social psychology, health care and education.
Dr Barbara Merrill is a Reader in the Center for Lifelong Learning having joined the former Department of Continuing Education in 1991 as a project development officer and then researcher. Before coming to Warwick she worked as a secondary teacher and advisory teacher for the Coventry LEA and a project officer at the Community Education Development Center. Currently she is the Academic Coordinator for the 2+2 Social Studies program, University Coordinator for the Community Enterprise and Development Foundation Degree and Director of the Center's undergraduate teaching program. She teaches undergraduate modules, supervises dissertation students and undertakes research. Dr Linden West is a Reader in Education and Co-Director of the Centre for International Studies of Diversity and Participation (CISDP). He was formerly Principal Lecturer in the Department of Post-Compulsory Education at Canterbury Christ Church, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Kent and a Principal Research Fellow at the University of East London and a researcher in adult education at the University of Keele. He has worked in further education, for the Workers Educational Association, in Local Authority adult education, for the Open University and as a broadcaster. Linden is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce and is also a qualified psychoanalytic psychotherapist, registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). He is an Honorary Member of the Standing Conference of Researchers and Teachers in the Education of Adults as well as Coordinator of European Society for Research on the Education of Adults Life History and Biographical Research Network. He has been a Visiting Professor at various European universities and has taught in Poland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France and many other countries. He has published widely and his writing has been translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, French and Italian.
Introduction: Setting the Scene Biographical Methods: an Introductory History Mapping the Contemporary Uses of Biographical Research Identifying Some Theoretical Issues Illustrating Good Practice: Case Studies Getting Started in Research Interviewing and Recording Experience Making Sense of Biography: Analysis Representing the Stories: Writing Up Is Biographical Research Valid and Ethical? On Being a Biographical Researcher