Our Lives as Database
Doing a Sociology of Ourselves: Czech
Social Transitions in Autobiographical
Research Dialogues

Edited By Zdenek Konopasek
Translated from Czech by Andrew Hawker
June 2000
Charles University, The Karolinum Press
ISBN: 80-246-0120-6
302 pages, 5 " x 8 "
$120.00 Paper Original

The interpretation of biographical narratives has become a common sociological approach. Although the specific research design and the character of the interpretive work often differ from case to case, there is a general similarity. What brings all these cases of (auto)biographical approach together is a revolt against standard survey sociology. Here, the sociologist does not ask questions (beforehand), nor does the respondent answer (afterwards), according to a stimulus-response model. Instead, the researcher often (first) listens at length, so as to (only afterwards) look for the questions that the narrator tried to answer with his/her life story. This situational transfer of authority, or inversion of power relations, between the two sides - so well described by Burgos (1989) - is closely related to the following characteristic feature of biographical research: sociological texts tend not to be authoritative monologues of disinterested researchers, but rather polyvocal dialogues, with the researcher acting only as a more or less sensitive orchestrator, conductor, and commentator.


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