Research Writing

Life story research Method characteristics examples How to apply

Life story research is a method used in qualitative approach research. It stands out as the best way to get in touch with different memories, which are narrated by individuals who lived through the events.

In Modern Science, the principles of the Natural Sciences predominated, that is, the need for measurement, experimentation and proof in research so that they were considered legitimate. In this perspective, there is emphasis on the researcher’s objectivity and neutrality. However, this methodology is not able to explain certain problems of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Human beings are subjective, therefore, to study them, it is necessary to apply methods capable of recognizing this characteristic. The field of subjectivity can be worked with the application of life history.

What is the life story?

Created in 1920 with the Chicago School, life history seeks to understand the articulation that exists between individual history and collective history . This means that the research establishes a bridge between the individual trajectory and the social trajectory.

The life story is a qualitative method of investigation, used to understand the subjective aspects of a person in relation to specific themes. The technique collaborates with research in different areas, such as education, psychology, communication and nursing.

The researcher, when applying the method, dives into the analysis of the individual’s subjective factors. This study takes into account life experiences and cultural values. It is believed that these factors culminate in the decision-making process, that is, they influence the choices made by each individual.

There are two different ways of working the life story:

  • Life Storycase study based on the narrative of the history of a subject or group, based on the analysis of documents for verification.
  • life story: it is the subject’s free account, without crossing with data extracted from documents. What matters is the individual’s point of view.

Method characteristics

  • Concern with the bond between researcher and researched;
  • Story told according to the characteristics of the individual;
  • There is a production of meaning both for the researcher and for the subject;
  • A bridge is created between individual and collective experience;
  • Allows the emergence of data that perhaps were not asked.

Life story examples

  • Life stories of young people and professional training experiences
  • Life stories of elderly people in the Federal District: a look at social isolation from the theoretical perspective of ageism
  • Life history and marital choice in women who suffer domestic violence
  • Life stories of elderly women: a study on subjective well-being in old age

How to apply life history in your research?

1 – Have a clear goal

Every research starts from an objective , which defines what will be studied. This research topic is also responsible for defining the most appropriate methodological procedure for the study. If the approach is qualitative, there are good chances of applying the life history method.

2 – Search for documents

The Life Story method defends the importance of verifying the information narrated by the subject. Therefore, look for documents related to your research topic and make a careful and comparative analysis.

Materials such as old reports, psychological tests, medical dossiers, legal dossiers, testimonies of relatives, interviews with people who know the subject and official documents are useful in this regard.

3 – Define a cut in time and space

When talking about narrative, it is known that the character is situated in a certain time and space. Thus, to make more accurate analyzes and comparisons, it is essential to delimit the period and place.

4 – Conduct an open interview with active listening

There are different ways of obtaining a subject’s report, as is the case with an open interview. In this technique, the researcher assumes the role of listening , in order to create a relationship of trust and open dialogue with the subject. He speaks spontaneously and seeks to know the reality of the individual being interviewed. Questions can be asked for deepening and clarification.

The questions, which are asked by the researcher, must be related to the objective of the research.

5 – Use recording instruments

Record the subject’s testimony on video, so you can identify emotions and feelings in speech and body language. Also, remember to take notes on the timing of the report.

6 – Make transcripts

As you conduct interviews and collect reports, transcription is critical. This exercise helps to correct mistakes and improve the approach.

The technique also serves to identify recurrent axes and categories in various speeches. Thus, in the next interviews, the subjects can be punctuated and motivate questions in the dialogue.

7 – Pay attention to saturation

Saturation exists when you identify the repetition of information in the interviewees’ speeches, in a way that this does not add anything new to the data production. In this case, it is understood that the number of respondents is already sufficient.

The life story is a research methodology that highlights the voices of the people who make up the sample. We hope that you have understood the concept of life story research method.

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