RN03 - Biographical Perspectives on European Societies
The RN03 promotes biographical perspectives on social reality by scholarly exchange and creative collaboration
The Research Network ‘Biographical perspectives on European Societies’ aims to promote scholarly exchange and creative collaboration between sociologists using biographical perspectives to understand the social reality. Our scope of interests is mainly organized around the following themes: identity, migration, ethnicity, memory, processes of social transformation and other processes structured within and structuring the social reality. Methodologically the network is developing along the qualitative, mainly biographical methods combining it with visual and performative methods.
- Coordinator: Lyudmila Nurse, UK, lyudmilanurse[at]oxford-xxi.org
- Co-coordinator: Katarzyna Waniek, Poland, k.m.waniek[at]googlemail.com
- Ina Alber-Armenat, Germany
- Jane Arnfield, UK
- Baiba Bela, Latvia
- Ana Caetano, Portugal
- Andre Epp, Germany
- Agnieszka Golczynska-Grondas, Poland
- Maggie O' Neill, Republic of Ireland
- Elena Rozhdestvenskaya, Russia
- Katerina Sidiropulu-Janků, Czech Republic and Austria
- Piotr Szenajch, Poland
- Kaja Kaźmierska, Poland - 2015-2019
- Maggie O’Neill, UK - 2011-2015
- Thea Boldt, Poland and Germany - 2007-2011
- Robin Humphrey, UK - 2003-2007
- Robert Miller, UK- 1999-2003
- J.P.Roos, Finland, 1995-1999
SOCIOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGES FOR ALTERNATIVE FUTURES, Barcelona, Spain
15th ESA Conference, SOCIOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGES FOR ALTERNATIVE FUTURES, Barcelona, Spain
You can find more information on the ESA 2021 website: https://www.europeansociology.org/esa-conference-2021-in-barcelona
ESA RN 03 'Biographical Perspectives on European Societies'
Reflexivity and Flexibility: Challenges and Opportunities of Biographical Methods for the Alternative Futures
Biographical methods are rooted in a long and diverse genealogy from a focus upon a single life story to encompass autobiography, archival, multimedia and art-based research using creative and performative methods (Roberts 2002; Nurse & O’Neill, 2018). Biographical researchers are accustomed to reflect on unprecedented societal circumstance that change lives, families, communities. Members of our research network study biographical experiences of disadvantaged, minority and ‘silent minorities’; isolation and trauma caused by social, political or health conditions. We approach the current situation, which undoubtedly influences perceptions of life, with strong theoretical and methodological lens including creative applications of biographical research methods, renewed research ethics, interviewing techniques and analyses.
Theoretical and methodological papers as well as research practice papers will address the following issues:
Wednesday, 1 September 2021
10:45am-12:15pm - RN03_01: Theory and methodology of biographical research
12:30pm - 2:00pm - RN03_T02: Biographical research: analysis and interpretation
3:30pm - 5:00pm - RN03_ T03: Biographies and memory
5:15pm- 6:45pm - RN03_T04: Biographies and identities
Thursday, 2 September 2021
9:00am - 10:30am - RN03_T05: Challenged by the pandemic: Biographies in Health and Social Care
10:45am - 12:15pm - RN03_T06: Visual and digital biographical research
1:45pm - 3:15pm - RN03_T07: Biographical and lifecourse research
5:15pm-6:45pm - Joint Session JS_RN03_RN23: “Biographies, identities, and sexuality” (Joint session with RN23 Sexuality)
We look forward to seeing many of you at the events of the Barcelona (virtual) conference.
Mid-term online event: “Biographical work in a time of social distancing: interview (s), analysis, interpretation”
25-26 September 2020
A two-day interactive online event: “Biographical work in a time of social distancing: interview(s), analysis, interpretation”
Organised by ESA RN03 in collaboration with the BNIM study group of the Sociological Association of Ireland (SAI)
A two-day interactive online event: “Biographical work in a time of social distancing: interview(s), analysis, interpretation”
The ESA RN03 mid-term event in 2020 takes place online in an innovative format as a series of webinars. It focuses on methodological issues of biographical research in new societal circumstances. The ‘social architecture’ of teaching has changed, but how might empirical, biographical research respond to the new challenges? What can biographical methods offer in times of social distancing and isolation? Biographical researchers and PhD students will speak about new evolving landscape of biographical research. At this difficult time the network contributes to wider participation of the PhD students who are using or considering biographical methods in their research and publications.
Day one - Friday 25 September
9:00-10:30 (BST)/10:00-11:30 (CET) - Webinar One: A new turn in biographical research in a time of social distancing and isolation.
Host: Dr Lyudmila Nurse (Oxford XXI think tank, UK, Coordinator RN03 (2019-2021))
The speakers of this session explore challenges and opportunities of biographical research in a time of social distancing and isolation in social and educational sciences across Europe. It will set a theoretical and practical framework for discussion.
Speaker(s) & Title(s)
Dr Lyudmila Nurse - Introduction: Facing the new turn in biographical research.
Dr Thea Boldt (University of Cottbus, Germany)
Pandemic Diary: Biography in Times of Crises.
Professor Maggie O’Neill (University College Cork, Ireland)
Creative Applications of Biographical Research: walking, experiencing, imagining.
Dr André Epp (University of Education Karlsruhe, Germany)
Triangulation in biographical research.
11:00am-12:30(noon) (BST)/12:00-13:30 (CET) - Webinar Two: Creative methods (e.g. walking biographies; visual methods, art-based methods).
Hosts: Maggie O’Neill (Republic of Ireland/UK) and Jane Arnfield (UK)
This session reflects upon the creative and imaginative application of biographical methods building upon our long history of research using walking, mobile, performative and arts based methods and the importance of creating time and space for theoretical, experiential and imaginative work in the context of Covid -19.
Speaker(s) & Title(s):
Dr Anne Byrne (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Writing Obscure Lives?
Dr Jerry O’Neill (Maynooth University, Ireland)
Walking It – a series of podcasts produced from walking dialogues and reflections which explore the significance of place and walking in people’s lives.
Dr Lyudmila Nurse (Oxford XXI think tank, UK) & Dr Chika Robertson (Music Mind Spirit Trust, UK)
Hearing and feeling the music within your steps and around: musical walks and biographical experience of the lockdown.
1:00-2:30 pm (BST) 14:00-15:30 (CET) - Webinar Three: Ethic and reflexivity in the relationship between researcher and research participants in biographical interviewing in a (post) pandemic world.
Hosts: Dr Katarzyna Waniek and Professor Agnieszka Golczyńska-Grondas (University of Łódź, Poland)
Biographical interviewing often requires face-to-face contact with people. The current situation has not only blocked or severely restricted the possibility of accessing certain individuals (who are digitally excluded, have limited access to the Internet or suitable space to feel free in telling their life experiences), but also challenged our research techniques and methods. The question of building trust, responsibility for interviewees’ welfare during and after interviewing, the reliability of the gathered data seems to be more and more important. The session carefully weighs the pros and cons of the online interviewing while also bearing in mind our “immersion” in the situation caused by Covid-19.
Speaker(s) & Title(s):
Ana Caetano, Magda Nico, Anabela Pereira & João Baía (Iscte-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, CIES-Iscte, Portugal)
Touching from a distance: gaining intimacy with research participants during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jakub Gałęziowski (University of Augsburg, Germany and University of Warsaw, Poland)
When a historian meets vulnerability – methodological and ethical aspects of research on sensitive topics and with people affected by difficult experiences.
Jerzy Stachowiak (University of Łódź, Poland)
Reliability of data and reliability of analysis. On the risks of making biography a researcher’s artefact.
3:00-4:30pm (BST)/16:00-17:30(CET) - Webinar Four: Turning inwards when studying other people’s lives: the effects of biographical research on researchers (PhD students’ session).
Hosts: Ana Caetano (Portugal), Baiba Bela (Latvia), Agnieszka Golczyńska-Grondas (Poland) and Lisa Moran (SAI, Republic of Ireland).
This session focuses upon the impact of doing biographical research upon the researcher. Acknowledging that researchers are not “faceless interviewers” is crucial to understand that, on the one hand, the way they deal, at an autobiographical level, with the research affects all stages of the study, and, on the other hand, the research can have a direct influence on their personal perspectives, emotions and actions, as well as on their scientific practice.
Speaker(s) & Title(s):
Fábio Rafael Augusto (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Stories of food hardship: understanding the impact of sensitivity and vulnerability on the researcher
Aleksandra Sobańska (University of Lodz, Poland)
Studying life stories of transgender women living in Poland
Oksana Žabko (University of Latvia, Latvia)
Reviewing the researcher's "borders": a biographical interview-driven need to expand a researcher's "presence" in a participant story.
Fabienne Seifert (University of Siegen, Germany)
Situational Awareness, Vulnerability, Images of Risk: Insights and Reflections on the impact of my research on me
Day two: Saturday, 26 September 2020
11:00am-12:00(noon) (BST)/ 12:00-13:00(CET) - RN03 Networking session
1:00-2:30 pm (BST) 14:00-15:30 (CET) - Webinar Six: Application of biographical methods in health and social care disciplines. (RN03 and Carinthia University of Applied Sciences)
Host: Dr Kateřina Sidiropulu-Janků (Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Austria)
The biographical method was always closely related to the social sphere of caring. With its roots in Gestalt psychotherapeutic tradition, the interconnectedness between self-perception, linguistic grasp of life story, coping and healing is at the core of the research method. What are good practices of training social and health care professionals to be able to properly use the biographical method? How do they face contemporary challenges of the biographical method such as not sharing the native language with their clients or implementation of social distancing? Also, taking into consideration the psychological aspects of the biographical work, the question of how much “narrative work” needs to be done by the caretaker themselves in order to be able to provide efficient reflexive work to their patients and clients comes to mind.
Speaker(s) & Title(s):
Dr Lisa Moran (Edge Hill University, UK), Dr Lorraine Green (Edge Hill University, UK) & Dr Lisa Warwick (University of Nottingham, UK)
Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM): Critical Reflections on 'Pushing for PINs' with 'Vulnerable' and 'At Risk' Populations.
Franziska Müller. M.A. (Karlsruhe University of Education, Germany)
Identity development in the context of international volunteering.
Dr Elham Amini (University of Durham, UK)
“Women Here", "Women There”: Power, Positionality and Decolonising Methodology in Gendered and Sexual Experiences of Iranian Women.
3:00-4:30pm (BST)/ 16:-17:30 (CET) - Webinar Seven: The Multidimensionality of Vulnerability and Risk in Biographical Research: Ethics, Vulnerabilities and Trauma
Hosts: Dr Lisa Moran and Dr Joan Cronin (BNIM study group, SAI, Republic of Ireland)
This session critically interrogates vulnerability and risk, exploring the multifarious ways that biographical methods are understood in research with people deemed as ‘at risk’ and/or ‘vulnerable’. Conceptualising risk and vulnerability as multidimensional, papers illuminate ethical and practical complexities of utilising biographical approaches with people in vulnerable groups, including young people experiencing racial prejudices and well-educated, affluent women who might not appear vulnerable due to financial status but negotiate social stigma and power relations for choosing career advancement over marriage and children. Significantly, papers illuminate confluence and convergence in societal interpretations of vulnerability and risk, which do not strictly correspond to people’s momentary interactions and narratives. Importantly, papers demonstrate the contested nature of vulnerability, exploring ‘hidden vulnerabilities’ that are part of people’s everyday experiences. Subsequently, we show that more critical commentary is required around risks of re-traumatising participants during and after interviews through eliciting narratives of distressing life events.
Speaker(s) & Title(s):
Dr Lisa Moran (Edge Hill University, UK) and Dr Joan Cronin (University College Cork)
Introduction: The Multidimensionality of Biographical Research Journeys: Vulnerabilities, Risks and Ethics
Dr Tamsin Barber (Oxford Brookes University, UK) and Dr Diana Yeh (City University of London, UK)
Sharing biographical vulnerabilities in the focus group setting: building solidarities, de-individualising racism and protective silences.
Dr Joan Cronin (University College Cork, Ireland)
Women’s Experiences of Voluntary Childlessness: A Study of Decision Making, Biography Making and Identity Management
Dr Ciara Bradley (Maynooth University, Ireland)
Situating Stories: Using the 'Interpretive panels' and the 'Four Foci Analytical Tool' in the Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method to better understand our interviews
5:00-6:30 pm (BST)/ 18:00-19:30 (CET) - Webinar Eight: Orientation session.
Coordinators: ESA RN03 Board and SAI BNIM study group
Hosts: Professor Agnieszka Golczyńska-Grondas and Aleksandra Sobańska (Poland)
The orientation session is a virtual platform for PhD students and other beginners in their ‘journey’ with biographical methods, with an opportunity to introduce them in person, to meet and to connect. During the first part of the session we will ask you to briefly present yourself and your research interests. Next, experienced biographical scholars will answer your questions which the coordinators of the session will gather in advance and engage in dialogue that both appreciate the benefits and challenges of doing biographical research.
Participation by registration only via email: ESARN03 [at] oxford-xxi.org. (Questions can be sent in advance and during the online event). When sending your questions please clearly indicate:
Your question/ to whom/ your name and affiliation; please indicate your research interests
ESA Director Dr Dagmar Danko and ESA Office Assistant Myriam Meliani for advice and assistance to the online event
Oxford XXI think tank, UK, for providing facilities and administrative support and for hosting the online event in Thame, Oxfordshire, UK
Dr John O’Brien (President of the Sociological Association of Ireland) for the support of the online event
14th Conference of the European Sociological association: Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging, Manchester, United Kingdom, 20 – 23 August 2019
RN 03 Theme
Borders, Risks, Inequality and (Un) Belonging through the prism of biographical research - sociological traditions and innovations
The RN’s thematic interests are mainly: identity, migration, ethnicity, memory, processes of social transformation in modern European societies, but we also welcome contributions examining the effects of globalization, nationalism, populism, migration and of ‘Brexit’. RN03 offers an opportunity to reflect on history and development of the biographical approach, the place of biographical research in contemporary social sciences and innovative ways of analysing data sources, such as narrative, conversational, linguistic analyses and re-visiting classics of autobiographical methods and the legacy of Thomas and Znaniecki’s work, the centenary of publication of which we celebrated in 2018, in combination with new methods. We aim at exploring creative advances in biographical research in the studies of borders, risks, (un)belonging, inequality, cultural diversity and participation using analysis of personal documents, life stories, autobiography and multi-media, performative and arts based methods. We are interested in studies of biographical resources on overcoming of social and educational inequalities (old and evolving). We welcome contributions on the biographical experiences represented in social media: blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as studies focused on the virtual worlds and biography online. Biographical narrative perspective incorporates a strong visual element in addressing issues of boundaries, barriers and belonging. Papers should critically reflect on how visual elements can contribute to the development of biographical narrative research. We shall explore ethical, methodological, aesthetic and political issues raised by the incorporation of a visual element in any particular project. In addition, we will host a “meet an author” session: to discuss recent publications using biographical methods and by RN03 members – a friendly, informal talk for advanced and early career researchers on how to analyse and write about biographical research.
Joint Session JS_RN02_RN03: “Performative and arts-based methods in biographical research” (Joint with RN02 Sociology of the Arts)
RN03 had organized five sessions in total. Four thematic sessions and one joint session in collaboration with RN02 Sociology of the Arts with a total of 24 papers were presented orally. One session had a film demonstration and discussion. The sessions were chaired by Kaja Kaźmierska, Maggie O’Neill, Katarzyna Waniek and Lyudmila Nurse.
Biographical Methods in the Qualitative Research session featured two oral presentations by João Baía, Ana Caetano and Magda Nico, ISCTE, Portugal: Connecting The Dots: Mapping The Field Of Biographical Research In Europe and by André Epp, University of Education Karlsruhe, Germany: Considerations on Triangulation of Biographical Narrative Interviews and Expert Interviews - Methodological Modifications and Extensions to Identify Relations Between Biography and Practical Theory.
Hermílio Santos, PUCRS, Brazil - President of the ISA RC 38 “Biography and society” presented his documentary film: Lifeworld - The Sociology of Alfred Schutz, followed by discussion.
Methods of Analysis of Biographical Data session featured five oral presentations: by Hazel Rosemary Wright, Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom: Hearing, Heading and Holistically Analysing to 'See' That 'Unsaid' in Biographic Interviews; Katarzyna Waniek, University of Lodz, Poland: Biographical Experiences of Transformation in the Cohort Born 1980-1990. A Case Analysis; by Michela Franceschelli, UCL, United Kingdom: Global Migration And Local Communities: Social Solidarity And Collective Grievance With The Absent State In The Italian Island Of Lampedusa: Elena Rozhdestvenskaya, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation: Biographical Research in the Era of Big Data: СV Analysis of the Management Business Elite in Russia; Ana Vidu, University of Deusto, Spain, Juanita Candamil, University of Barcelona, Adriana Aubert, University of Barcelona, Spain: Second Order Sexual Harassment And Solidarity Networks In Universities.
Biography and Memory session featured four oral presentations by Andrzej Czyżewski, University of Lodz, Poland: 1968 in Poland – Biography and Memory; Edmunds Šūpulis, University of Latvia, Latvia: Narrative Construction of Generational Experience in Latvian Life Stories; Kaja Kazmierska, University of Lodz, Poland: Winners and Losers of the Process of Transformation from the Biographical Perspective. Paolo Contini, Facoltà Teologica Pugliese, Italy; Angela Mongelli, Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro: Reception and Integration: The Narrative of the Riace Case.
Biography and Identities session featured four presentations: by Katerina Sidiropulu Janku, Jana Obrovska, Masaryk University, Czech Republic: "I Get Along Better with Whites than with Blacks." Discursive Imprisonment and Ways out for Third Generation of „Others“ in European Space. Czech-Slovak Roma Mothers Narrating their Way to Upbring the Early School Children; Abdul Rauf, Bielefeld University, Germany: Boundaries Un/Making By Young Refugees In Urban Spaces and Hana Maříková, Institute of Sociology, Czech Republic: To Become or Not to Become a Parent? How Childless/Childfree Men Experience Their Life Trajectories and Bolaji Balogun, University of Leeds, United Kingdom: The Racialised - not being Polish, not being White, not being European.
Joint session of the RN02 and RN03: Performative and Arts-Based Methods in Biographical Research were jointly chaired Chris Mathieu, Sweden and Lyudmila Nurse, UK.
The session also featured four presentations: by Justyna Kijonka, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland: A Migrant’s Biography as Art. Ana Gonçalves Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais; Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Lisboa, Portugal; Alexandre Bergamo, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina - UFSC, Florianópolis, Brasil: Frames of Live: The Visual-Verbal Interplay in Photo-Biographical Research; by Maggie ONeill, UCC, Ireland; , Lyudmila Nurse, Oxford University, UK ( presented by Maggie O’Neill: Creative Applications Of Biographical Research Methods; thoughts on the inter-disciplinarity, analysis and interpretation of biographical data. Katarzyna Niziołek, University of Białystok, Poland: Assemblage of Memory. A Female Experience of Memory Transmission and Performance.
Mid-term Conference, Lodz, 17-18 September 2018
Theoretical and empirical reflections on social disorganisation and “otherness” in modern European societies: Following the biographical and discursive approach of Thomas and Znaniecki's legacy of “Polish Peasant in Europe and America”
Conference website: http://esamidterm2018.uni.lodz.pl/