The Interview Situation and Experiences of the Body; Enriching Biographical Research Processes by the Inclusion of Sensory Perception

Christine Demmer


Body and language are both integral parts of interview situations in biographical research. Within the social sciences the body is regarded as an influential parameter in constructing social reality (cf. GUGUTZER, 2012, pp.11f.). However, the research process often focuses only on the spoken word, recorded in the form of transcripts. The dimension of physical and sensory expression and comprehension is not adequately taken into consideration.

Against this background, in this article I consider how the physical and sensing body could be incorporated into biographical research so as to generate compelling and meaningful data. What does it mean for research results if the analysis of data is not limited to the spoken word but also considers the body in the research process? Is there a difference in or an addition to findings if the body is considered? In this contribution I refer to approaches to the sociology of the body and the phenomenologically oriented educational sciences that advocate using the sensing body as a medium of perception and comprehension (cf. GUGUTZER, 2012; STENGER, 2013).

According to DEPPERMANN (2013) the interview cannot be seen as a text only but also as a situational and shared production of sense. I therefore draw on GUGUTZER's suggestion that researchers should face their moments of "inward resistance" (2013, p.15), as including the experiences of the body that allow for more significant insight into methodological and subject-related questions.



biographical research; narrative interview; body; self-perception; subjectivity


Copyright (c) 2016 Christine Demmer

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