Holding On Together

Conversations with Barry

We began by talking about life history interviewing:

BT: We spoke a bit about the interview itself... and you reckon that you choose to be fairly passive, fairly recessive. Two questions arising from that. Firstly, can you give me a justification?... and... is that the routine start? Are there any situations in which you would change that?

IG: Taking that in reverse order, I guess there would always be situations where I would change being a reflexive researcher (ha ha). But in terms of being passive, that's the question of my analysis of the stages that one goes through in an interview for life history; so whilst I would start passive, I would think one would get more and more active as the process went through. So we talked a bit last week about these three stages which are not discreet, but which I believe exist, which begin with a more passive attempt to elicit what I call the raw narration of the life story from the life story teller which of course isn't raw but which is a script coming from them without much prompting. So, in that sense, the interview is passive in that first period where they're eliciting that prime narration, the first narration, a kind of script to the life, but then there would be some more stages which I describe as collaboration and location where you would ask a series of questions about that first narration of the life story which seemed to locate it, challenge it and interrogate it and position it, sociologically and historically.

BT: So it would become progressively focused?

IG: Yeah, progressively focused and progressively more interactive I think to be honest with you. Progressively, I would prefer to say, collaborative.

BT: What happens if your respondent... didn't want the interactive relationship that you request?

IG: You mean all you get is just their first telling of their life script? Well, all you've got is their first telling of the life script.
Date of publication:
Number of pages
(as Word doc):
Publisher: Trentham Books
Co-author: n/a
Subject: Life History
Available in: English
Appears in: Researching Race and Social Justice Education - Essays in Honour of Barry Troyna
Number of editions: 1

View all articles