Testing the potential of auto/biographical life history

Yvonne Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: In this paper I describe a methodological experiment designed to test the potential of an auto/biographical (Stanley, 1992) life history narrative. Could it serve a purpose for which it was not originally intended? Specifically, I consider the extent to which a life history articulates with the literature on migration, even though it was not written for this purpose.
Design/methodology/approach: I consider this issue via a series of four narrative vignettes representing the story of this experiment.
Findings: I found that the life history does more than articulate with the migration literature on conceptual distinction. It also animates, supplements and interrogates theories therein about the utility and futility of making distinctions. In this respect the experiment has been a success.
Limitations: This paper has not explicitly engaged with the ethics and politics of employing life history in ways for which it was not intended.
Originality/value: This paper is making a methodological contribution to the area of qualitative research and suggests that multiple analyses might perhaps make life history more attractive to funders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-373
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2016


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