Conference Agenda

RN03_01: Biographical Methods in the Qualitative Research
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Kaja Kazmierska, University of Lodz
Location: GM.334
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Connecting The Dots: Mapping The Field Of Biographical Research In Europe

João Baía, Ana Caetano, Magda Nico

ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal

The long and established roots of biographical research have been documented throughout the years in a rich body of reflections directed at the main trends and traditions of its evolution within social sciences. However, many of the texts mapping its key approaches and methods tend to be exclusively qualitatively driven, cross-disciplinary, and focused on particular approaches and national traditions, zooming in the context of specific research designs or issues. In this presentation we aim to contribute to this mapping of biographical research by narrowing down the disciplinary focus to sociology and the scope to the European academic context, while simultaneously broadening the analytical approach to include both a qualitative and quantitative outlook on the field. The main results of a bibliometric analysis and literature review are discussed, taking into consideration elements such as year and type of publication, geographical scope, type of concepts used, main focus (theoretical, methodological, mixed), methodology, type of approach, use of content analysis software, among others. With these approaches (content and statistical analysis) we are able to identify and characterise the major trends, debates and stages in the development of biographical research in the European sociological literature. This analysis is part of a research project entitled “Biographical echoes: triangulation in the study of life histories” whose main goal is to reconstitute a person’s life history by means of autobiographical accounts, but also using the testimonies that significant others (family, friends) share about that biography.

Considerations on Triangulation of Biographical Narrative Interviews and Expert Interviews - Methodological Modifications and Extensions to Identify Relations Between Biography and Practical Theory

André Epp

University of Education Karlsruhe, Germany

In the foreground of biographical narrative interviews are especially life stories and not the acting (strategies) of pedagogies. Inverse with other interview forms information about the pedagogical acting can be captured but biographical process sequences are neglected. As biographical professional research operates in the conflict area between biographical and work-related (professional) sense structures it is currently discussed in what extent triangulation is able to capture biographical constitutional conditions of pedagogical professionalism.

The paper outlines the similarities and overlaps between biographical narrative interviews (cf. Schütze 1983) and expert interviews (cf. Meuser/Nagel 1991). It is justified theoretically why the combination of both interview forms makes it possible to identify biographical and work-related (professional) sense structures in practical theories and why they can be related to each other.

Moreover, reasons are given how and why category and sequence analytical methods can be productive combined for analyzing the biographical constitutional conditions of pedagogical professionalism. With the help of a research project, which deals with the biographical genesis of practical theory structures of teachers, it is illustrated and exemplary shown how with Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (1981) and the narrative analysis (cf. Schütze 1983) the interview material can be analyzed. Additionally, it will be shown how methodically controlled connections between biographical and work-related (professional) sense structures can be worked out.


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1981). Die Ökologie der menschlichen Entwicklung. Stuttgart: Klett Verlag.

Meuser, M./Nagel, U. (1991). Experteninterviews - vielfach erprobt, wenig bedacht: ein Beitrag zur qualitativen Methodendiskussion. In SFB 186 Statuspassagen und Risikolagen im Lebensverlauf. Bremen: Universität.

Schütze, F. (1983). Biographieforschung und narratives Interview. In Neue Praxis, 13, 3, p. 283-293.

Understanding Socio-Political Values through Biographies

Albertina Pretto, Debora Marcucci

University of Trento, Italy

Data from European Values Study show that Italians - with regard to the socio-political values at least - are increasingly discouraged and distrustful toward political parties and institutions. Nevertheless, in the 2018 Italian general election, the Forza Italia party (centre-right) and its leader Silvio Berlusconi gained almost the 14% of votes; and this, despite all the scandals – despite all the corruption allegations, the abuse of women, the conflict of interests and so on – and despite the almost complete failure of the Berlusconi governments to bring about the change and renewal promised at the time of his entry the field in 1994. Staying within the topic of values, our question is: what the Berlusconi’s voters think about him and which values he represents for them?

To understand the nature of electoral support for the Forza Italia party, we have gathered 40 life stories of Italians who always voted for Berlusconi’s party. Through their biographies, we have analysed the socio-political values and the political traditions and orientations that lead their vote.

Lifeworld - The Sociology of Alfred Schutz, Screening and Discussion of the Documentary Film

Hermílio Santos

PUCRS, Brazil

The documentary film “Life-world: The Sociology of Alfred Schutz” (directed by Hermílio Santos, 56’, Brazil, 2018), with interviews on different aspects of the work of Alfred Schutz is divided in four parts: some notes on his biography; the main theoretical influences on his work, as Edmund Husserl, Max Weber and Ludwig von Mises; the main concepts of his sociological theory and how his sociology have been used currently in theoretical and empirical researches. Among the interviewees are Claudia Schutz Gahagan, Michael Barber, Lester Embree (USA), Hisashi Nasu, Mototaka Mori, Masato Kimura (Japan), Ilia Srubar, Martin Endress, Jochen Dreher, Andreas Göttlich, Joachim Renn (Germany), Thomas Eberle (Switzerland), Michel Maffesoli (France), Carlos Belvedere, Silvana Figueroa-Dreher, Daniela Lopez, Mercedes Krause (Argentina), Luigi Muzzetto (Italy) and Tomas da Costa (Brazil). The interviews were conducted in English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, French and Portuguese with English subtitles, with locations in Vienna, New York, Tokyo, Porto Alegre and Buenos Aires. After the screening the director of the film will discuss some topics explored in the film. The proposal of this film session is based on the increasing worldwide interest on the sociology of Alfred Schutz, showed by the publication of his complete work in twelve volumes in German, by the creation of the Journal Schutzian Research, initiated in 2009, by the establishment of the Alfred Schutz International Circle for Phenomenology and Interpretive Social Science (created in 2012), besides the publication of recent books and articles exploring different aspects of his sociology and his influence for the biographical research. The teaser of the film is available under: