Ageing, narrative and biographical methods

Authored by: Joanna Bornat

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415631143
eBook ISBN: 9780203097090
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221033


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‘Biographical methods’ is a term commonly used to include a variety of loosely related approaches that draw on the self as a central source: narrative studies, life history, oral history, storytelling, autobiography, life writing, biography, auto/biography, reminiscence, life narrative. Indeed, in their comprehensive overview of the field, Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson identify 52 different types of approach (2001). Researchers and writers who work with these traditions tend to work in parallel, often not recognizing each other’s existence, working with their own literary canon. The range of types of data is similarly extensive, including diaries, letters, notebooks, interactive websites, photographs, weblogs and written personal narratives, as well as standard research tools such as interviews, questionnaires and, again, diaries. History, psychology, sociology, social policy, anthropology, literary studies and neurobiology have provided guidance and inspiration in various ways. With so many different forms, disciplinary influences and types of data, how best to give shape and meaning to any approach to managing and interpreting that might be of use to cultural gerontology?

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