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Biography and the Biographical Approach Print
Biography can be regarded as the “told life”, i.e. as subjective meaning-making with regard to the individual shape of the life-course.

The biographical approach, in sociological perspective, has become widely recognized since the seventies of the last century in European social research in general, but especially in gender studies and youth sociology, meaning: being susceptible for “first order constructions” as the basis for making scientific interpretations as “second order constructions”. This approach criticises a positivistic understanding of social phenomena and takes into serious account what especially feminists demand for social research and practice: to take into account the dimension of subjective experience. Epistemologically, the roots of the biographical approach lay in symbolic interactionism, pragmatism and the Chicago School which have in common a dialectic instead of a dualistic understanding of the relationship between individual and society respectively structure and agency. This allows for a critical re-construction of processes in which all dimensions of “doing difference” can be de- respectively re-constructed. With open interview methods this approach gives (young) women and men space to reflect on and reconstruct their lives; however, analytical interest is not restricted to individual agency but concerns the interplay of structure and agency: It regards biographies as radical documents of sociality. (BS)



Alheit, Peter & Dausien, Bettina (2000) ‚Biographicity’ as a basic resource of lifelong learning, in: Peter Alheit (ed.) Liefelong Learning inside and outside schools, Roskilde: Roskilde Unoversity, University of Bremen and University of Leeds, pp. 400-422.

Apitzsch, Ursula, Bornat, J./ Chamberlayne, Prue (eds.) (2004) Biographical analysis and professional practice. The Policy Press: Bristol.

Chamberlayne, Prue (2000) The turn to biographical methods in social science: comparative issues and examples. London: Routledge.

Schütze, Fritz (2003) Hülya's Migration to Germany as Self-Sacrifice Undergone and Suffered in Love for Her Parents, and Her Later Biographical Individualisation. Biographical Problems and Biographical Work of Marginalisation and Individualisation of a Young Turkish Woman in Germany. Part I, : Volume 4, No. 3, Art. 23 – September 2003, http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/3-03/3-03schuetze-e.htm[13 –4 –2006]


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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 May 2006 )

Project supported by funding under the European Union's Sixth Research Framework Programme - Coordinated by IRIS e.V.

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