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Innovative Narrative Life History Interviews: The Construction of Academic Giftedness in Family Context

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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This case study is based on my PhD research, completed in 2010, in which I explored how families from broadly working class backgrounds constructed and understood the fact that a child of theirs had been labelled ‘gifted and talented’ at school. I wanted to understand this in relation to their views on giftedness and alongside their own educational life histories, but also in terms of their family practices more broadly and beliefs about social mobility. Research on academic giftedness has been largely psychological, with giftedness defined as an individual cognitive capacity and where gifted students have been studied in isolation from their families. My study therefore began with the aim of redressing this particular bias, taking giftedness to be a socially constructed concept, at least in part, and considering the child within their wider family context. This case study provides an account of the methodological considerations which arose in seeking to conduct in-depth topical life history interviews with a family group and in using narrative analysis to construct rich descriptive cases, which could yield theoretical generalisations.

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Life history interviews

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