Timescapes: Living a Qualitative Longitudinal Study
This article introduces and describes Timescapes: Changing Relationships and Identities Through the Lifecourse, the first, indeed the only piece of research in the UK designed and funded (by the Economic and Social Research Council) specifically as a large-scale qualitative longitudinal study. The history of the development of the study places it in a specific context of debates about archiving, secondary analysis and re-use of qualitative data, and the study makes a contribution in all of these areas. As research and archiving practice it presents a model of an approach to large scale qualitative longitudinal research. The study consists of nine projects taking place in five UK universities, with seven empirical projects covering the life course, all integrated at a number of levels to produce the whole study. The broad aim is to investigate the changing nature of relationships and identities over the life course. Qualitative longitudinal research is distinguished by the deliberate way in which temporality is designed into the research process making change and continuity over time a central focus of analytic attention and a conceptual driver. In our case it is also built into the title. A timescape is a temporal vista that brings into focus a micro-temporal view of the world, and can in this way, as in our case, give insight into the dynamic unfolding of real lives. Temporality, its different meanings, and the way different temporalities intersect and play out, is a key part of our investigation. We are critically and particularly interested in three broad timescapes: biographical, generational and historical. The article discusses the conceptual basis of the research, substantive and empirical issues, and the contribution to qualitative longitudinal methodology, as well as the living archive that we are developing to house our data.
Copyright (c) 2011 Janet Holland
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