Accepted Paper:

The dynamics of the autobiographical narrative interview situation  

Author:

Markieta Domecka (Queen's University, Belfast)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation will focus on the special dynamics between the interviewer and the interviewee in the situation of autobiographical narrative interviewing.

Paper long abstract:

The presentation will focus on the special dynamics between the interviewer and the interviewee in the situation of autobiographical narrative interviewing.

When a person agrees to take part in a biographical research project, after being informed about the research topic and the research method, an appointment is made. It is a situation marked by curiosity (sometimes even a bit of stress) both on the side of an interviewee, who most likely is being asked to tell the story of his/her life for the first time and on the side an interviewer, who despite the experience s/he has with the method, never knows how the interview situation will develop. In most cases, if the purpose of the research is described, the technique of autobiographical narrative interview is well explained and the role of interviewee clarified, we receive a detailed autobiographical account, made of narrative, argumentative and descriptive segments. In some cases, however, despite interviewer's best intentions and effort, the interview situation becomes very problematic. An interviewee may criticise the method as "non-scientific" or "psychoanalytical" and the request to tell one's life story may be rejected ("my childhood has nothing to do with who I am now") or misunderstood. In the presentation, the examples of both problematic and unproblematic situations will be included.

Moreover, a special attention will be given to the crucial elements of the autobiographical narrative interview, such as preamble, where the narrator tries to answer the question when life started to be his/her own unique life history and what would be its basic features, coda and pre-coda argumentation, finishing the main life story line and evaluating the overall autobiographical story and the present life situation of the interviewee (Sch├╝tze, 2008).

Panel P02
Exploring the biographical method