Biographical Research

Biographical Research

Biographical Research

Biographical Research


"Roberts is certainly successful in conveying a sense of the rich diversity of biographical research. This is a book based upon a formidably wide-ranging bibliography together with his own, by no means insignificant, contributions to the field [the] reader will be left in no doubt as to the central importance of biographical research and of its legitimate position within the social sciences" - David Morgan, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Manchester University (former President, British Sociological Association), Auto/Biography, a BSA Study Group journal, 2002.

"Brian Roberts' book is a highly accessible introduction to biographical method. The author deftly and confidently addresses the available work in a variety of disciplines ranging from education through oral history, feminism to memory. I warmly recommend this book to any historian interested in biography and what its study can tell them about what they do'. - Alun Munslow, Professor of History, Staffordshire University (Editor, Rethinking History), Rethinking History, 7:3, pp. 451-5, October, 2003

• What is biographical research?

• Why has it attracted so much interest?

• How can biographical research be carried out?

Biographical Research reflects a rapid expansion of interest in the study of lives taking place within the social sciences. Life story, oral history, narrative, autobiography, biography and other approaches are being used more and more to explore how individuals interpret experiences and social relationships.

This book examines the methodological and theoretical developments associated with research on lives in sociology, oral history, ethnography, biography, and narrative analysis. The author includes numerous examples of biographical research from his own work and other studies, and addresses important areas such as the collection and interpretation of materials, uses of biographical research, oral and written accounts, the interview relationship, the construction of the story, memory, audience, and the researcher's own biography. In conclusion it draws out common themes and emerging concerns. Biographical Research is a comprehensive guide to major issues in the study of lives for students and researchers in the social sciences and related fields.


This Understanding Social Research series is designed to help students to understand how social research is carried out and to appreciate a variety of issues in social research methodology. It is designed to address the needs of students taking degree programmes in areas such as sociology, social policy, psychology, communication studies, cultural studies, human geography, political science, criminology and organization studies and who are required to take modules in social research methods. It is also designed to meet the needs of students who need to carry out a research project as part of their degree requirements. Postgraduate research students and novice researchers will find the books equally helpful.

The series is concerned to help readers to 'understand' social research methods and issues. This will mean developing an appreciation of the pleas- ures and frustrations of social research, an understanding of how to imple- ment certain techniques, and an awareness of key areas of debate. The relative emphasis on these different features will vary from book to book, but in each one the aim will be to see the method or issue from the position of a practising researcher and not simply to present a manual of 'how to' steps. In the process, the series will contain coverage of the major methods of social research and addresses a variety of issues and debates. Each book in the series is written by a practising researcher who has experience of the technique or debates that he or she is addressing. Authors are encouraged to draw on their own experiences and inside knowledge.

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