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.

Mapping the Contemporary Uses of Biographical Research

Anyone who has ever felt left out, ignored, or powerless has the beginnings of an understanding of the feminist and minority perspectives that have arisen in recent decades with great vigour and anger in the field of biography and autobiography. (Louis Smith, 1998: 210)

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