Life stories the biographic method
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Life stories the biographic method. The Biographical Interpretive Method Life History Interviews Life Story Interviews. Life History - Life Story biographic interviews. unfocused, open-ended In-depth broad area of experiences detailed accounting

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Life stories the biographic method

Life storiesthe biographic method

The Biographical Interpretive Method

Life History Interviews

Life Story Interviews


Life history life story biographic interviews
Life History - Life Storybiographic interviews

  • unfocused, open-ended

  • In-depth

  • broad area of experiences

  • detailed accounting

  • in its own right - as background for life events

  • psychoanalytic - user-focused empowerment politics


Different approaches to biography as method

Chamberlain (2002)

Hollway & Jefferson (2000)

Rosenthal (1983, 2003)

Wengraf (2001)

Hermans (1992)

Holstein & Gubrium (2000)

McAdams (1985)

Miller (2000)

Mishler (1986, 1999)

different approaches to biography as method


Rosenthal 2003 the narrative conversation guide
Rosenthal (2003)the narrative-conversation-guide

---usually TWO interviews

---first interview: several hours

  • Opening question: “Please tell me your family story and your personal life story; I am interested in your whole life. Anything that occurs to you. You have as much time as you like to tell it. I won’t ask you any questions for now. I just will make some notes on the things that we would like to ask you more about later; if we haven’t got enough time today, perhaps in a secvond interview”


Rosenthal 2003 continued
Rosenthal (2003) <continued>

  • PHASE I: MAIN Narration

    • Attentive and supportive – no interruptions, no questions except supportive questions when stuck (“and then what happened”?) [using the ‘active listener guide <“that must have felt terrible?”>]

  • PHASE II: INTERNAL Narrative Questions

    • “Could you tell me more about time X”? or ”Could you recall a situation when your father behaved in an authoritative way”?

  • PHASE III: EXTERNAL Narrative Questions:

    • Regarding topics that have not been mentioned in the interview


Rosenthal 2003 continued1
Rosenthal (2003) <continued>

  • GOALS of the interview

    • ‘to come close to an integral reproduction of what at that time happened or the past experience’s gestalt’ (p. 922)

    • maintaining the gestalt of the interviewee’s story

  • Analysis of the interview

    • reconstructing sequences of actions

    • ‘abducting’ the ‘gestalt’

    • theoretical generalization <WHY did THIS happen?>

  • Relevancies

    • For the interviewee, the interviewer + the public


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