The session aims to critically explore the biographical method and the opportunities and limitations it poses to interviewers and interviewees.
The session aims to critically explore the biographical method and the opportunities and limitations it poses to interviewers and interviewees. At the beginning of autobiographical narrative interviews there is a single eliciting question that is designed to encourage the interviewee to tell the story of his/her life. The researcher does not intervene, but only provides non-committal, mostly non-verbal, responses. As the interview moves to a second stage, questions concerning one's biography will be asked, but only in relation to topics already introduced by the respondent. In the third, more probing, stage that the researcher asks about motives ('why' questions) and explicitly asks about the issues relating to his or her research. The interviews are carefully transcribed and analysed, identifying ordering principles of personal experiences, such as particular communicative schemes of presentation, cognitive figures and process structures.
We are interested in papers that discuss the following issues:
- The possibilities and constraints of the method
- Detailed analysis of particular autobiographical interviews
- Autobiographical interviews as basis for comparison
- Difficulties with cross-cultural comparisons of biographical data
- Assessing how culturally- and/or historically specific underlying assumptions of the method influence the production of data
- Combining the biographical method with other methods
- Emotional dimensions of autobiographical narration/interviewing
- Ethical issues
- Comparisons of various versions of the method