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'We must put ourselves in the position of the subject who tries to find his way in this world, and we must remember, first of all, that the environment by which he is influenced and to which he adapts himself is his world, not the objective world of science.'

W.I. Thomas
and
F. Znaniecki

Qualitative Sociology Review
2006
Volume II Issue 1


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


Bogusia Temple
     University of Central Lancashire, UK

Representation across languages: biographical sociology meets translation and interpretation studies

Biographical approaches are increasingly being used with people who speak and write a range of languages. Even when an account is originally spoken, the final version usually ends up written in the language used by the majority of the population. Researchers have shown that adopting a language that is not the one an account was given in may change how someone is perceived. Yet little has been written by sociologists using biographical approaches about the implications of moving accounts across languages. Researchers within translation and interpretation studies are increasingly tackling issues of representation across languages and developing concepts that can usefully be applied in biographical research. They question the assumption that accounts can be unproblematically transferred across languages and argue for strategies and concepts that 'foreignise' texts and challenge the baseline of the target, usually for these writers, English language. However, these concepts bring issues of their own. In this article I examine these developments and give an example from my own cross language research that show that these concepts can begin to open up debates about meaning and representation.

Keywords:
cross language research, biography, narrative translation interpretation.
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Stephanie Taylor
     Open University, UK
     Karen Littleton
     Open University, UK

Biographies in talk: A narrative-discursive research approach

This paper demonstrates the contribution a synthetic narrative-discursive approach can make to understanding biographical work within a research interview. Our focus is on biographical work as part of the ongoing, interactive process through which identities are taken up. This is of particular interest for people who, for example, are entering a new career and can be seen as 'novices' in the sense that they are constructing and claiming a new identity. Following a discussion of the theoretical and methodological background in narrative, discourse analytic and discursive work in social psychology (e.g. Bruner, 1990; Edley, 2001; Potter and Wetherell, 1987; Wetherell, 1998), the paper presents an analysis of biographical talk from an interview study with postgraduate Art and Design students. Our interest is in their identity work, including biographical work, as novices in their fields. The analysis illustrates the approach and the key analytic concepts of, first, shared discursive resources, such as interpretative repertoires (e.g. Edley 2001) and canonical narratives (e.g. Bruner 1991), and, secondly, troubled identities (e.g. Wetherell and Edley, 1998; Taylor 2005a) . It shows how speakers' biographical accounts are shaped and constrained by the meanings which prevail within the larger society. For our participants, these include established understandings of the nature and origins of an artistic or creative identity, and the biographical trajectory associated with it. The particular focus of our approach is on how, in a speaker's reflexive work to construct a biographical narrative, the versions produced in previous tellings become a constraint and a source of continuity.

Keywords:
narrative-discursive, discursive resources, identity trouble, creative identities, novice identities.
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Maggie O'Neill
     Loughborough University, UK
     Ramaswami Harindranath
     Melbourne University, Australia

Theorising narratives of exile and belonging : the importance of Biography and Ethno-mimesis in "understanding" asylum.

The article explores the use and importance of taking a biographical approach to conducting participatory action research (PAR) with asylum seekers and refugees in order to: better understand lived experiences of exile and belonging; contribute to the important field of Biographical Sociology; provide a safe space for stories to be told; and in turn for these stories to feed in to policy and praxis.
The authors' combined work on the asylum-migration nexus, the politics of representation and participatory action research methodology (PAR) as ethno-mimesis argues for the use of biography to contribute to cultural politics at the level of theory, experience and praxis, and is constitutive of critical theory in praxis. PAR research undertaken with Bosnian refugees in the East Midlands and Afghan refugees in London will be the focus around which our analysis develops.
We develop a case for theory building based upon lived experience using biographical materials, both narrative and visual, as critical theory in practice towards a vision of social justice that challenges the dominant knowledge/power axis embedded in current governance and media policy relating to forced migration.

Keywords:
biography, ethno-mimesis, PAR, asylum, social justice, cultural politics, politics of representation, media.
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John Given
     Northumbria University

Narrating the Digital Turn: data deluge, technomethodology, and other likely tales

In this paper it is argued that digital technologies will have a transformative effect in the social sciences in general and in the fast developing field of narrative studies in particular. It is argued that the integrative and interdisciplinary nature of narrative approaches are further enhanced by the development of digital technologies and that the collection of digital data will also drive theoretical and methodological developments in narrative studies. Biographical Sociology will also need to take account of lives lived in, and transformed by, the digital domain. How these technologies may influence data collection methods, how they might influence thinking about what constitutes data, and what effects this might have on the remodeling of theoretical approaches are all pressing questions for the development of a Twenty First Century narratology. As Marshall McLuhan once put it 'First we shape our tools and then our tools shape us'.

Keywords:
digital turn, data deluge, technomethodology, narrative, storytelling.
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Kip Jones
     Bournemouth University, United Kingdom

A Biographic Researcher in Pursuit of an Aesthetic: The use of arts-based (re)presentations in "performative" dissemination of life stories

The (re)presentation of biographic narrative research benefits greatly from embracing the art of its craft. This requires a renewed interest in an aesthetic of storytelling. Where do we find an aesthetic in which to base our new "performative" social science? The 20th Century was not kind to 18th Century notions of what truth and beauty mean. The terms need to be re-examined from a local, quotidian vantage point, with concepts such as 'aesthetic judgment' located within community. Social Constructionism asks us to participate in alterior systems of belief and value. The principles of Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics offer one possible set of convictions for further exploration. Relational Art is located in human interactions and their social contexts. Central to it are inter-subjectivity, being-together, the encounter and the collective elaboration of meaning, based in models of sociability, meetings, events, collaborations, games, festivals and places of conviviality. Bourriaud believes that Art is made of the same material as social exchanges. If social exchanges are the same as Art, how can we portray them? One place to start is in our (re)presentations of narrative stories, through publications, presentations and performances. Arts-based (re)presentation in knowledge diffusion in the post-modern era is explored as one theoretical grounding for thinking across epistemologies and supporting inter-disciplinary efforts. An example from my own published narrative biography work is described, adding credence to the concept of the research report/presentation as a 'dynamic vehicle', pointing to ways in which biographic sociology can benefit from work outside sociology and, in turn, identifying areas of possible collaboration with the narrator in producing 'performances' within published texts themselves.

Keywords:
Biographic narrative research, arts-based (re)presentation, relational aesthetics, social constructionism; "performative" social science.
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