Qualitative Archives and Biographical Research Methods. An Introduction to the FQS Special Issue
The use of archival materials as a point of departure when designing and launching social research takes for granted that a culture of archiving (for sharing and re-use) has rooted time ago in our complex societies. This mentality and research practice first flourished and is fairly well installed in the case of statistics, surveys and certain other primary or secondary documents. On the contrary, it is less frequent and certainly not a routine activity for qualitative data. Only some of the raw and elaborated materials gathered during qualitative research become part of an archive for further reanalysis. These can include the backstage practices and experiences of a project, raw materials such as field notes, audio and visual recordings, and other documents produced during the research process. This issue presents a colorful range of articles that deal with experiences, challenges and opportunities of archiving and re-using qualitative material, particularly under the umbrella of biographical and narrative research. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of archiving in qualitative social research and highlights some of the new methodological reflections and approaches that have been and that are being developed within the European landscape. We hope that the articles in this issue will help promote further communication and exchange among qualitative archival practitioners from different countries and with different sensitivities and conceptual horizons.