Training for Advanced Research in the Narrative Study of Lives Within the Context of Political and Educational Transformation: A Case Study in South Africa

  • Jan K. Coetzee University of the Free State
  • Florian Elliker University of St. Gallen
  • Asta Rau University of the Free State
Keywords: advanced qualitative research, the narrative study of lives, postgraduate programme, metatheoretical framework, relational methodology, biographical context, institutional context, societal context, South Africa

Abstract

It is widely accepted that the humanities and social sciences in South Africa have stagnated since the end of the anti-apartheid struggle in this country. This article argues that a programme in The Narrative Study of Lives provides a platform for establishing and strengthening a significant component of the training of social and human scientists. Its essence is epistemologically related to indigenous knowledge, cultural transmission and community engagement, and it can therefore contribute towards a democratisation of knowledge. The programme is situated in a participatory learning environment and the supervisors aim for students to assimilate new knowledge at a deep level, engage critically with it and apply it in ways that demonstrate their solid grasp of content and research processes. In addition to this focus on thesis-as-product, supervision is also concerned with the person-as-product.

The programme aims at building students' capacity to master and apply metatheory, substantive theory as well as qualitative research methodology. The epistemology of The Narrative Study of Lives programme is largely based on the phenomenological/interpretivist tradition and it largely operates within an idealist theory of knowledge. The program does emphasise, however, the need to straddle the often-irresolvable antagonisms of subject and object, micro and macro, objectivist and constructivist, and structure and agency. For this reason students are sensitised to distinguish between the biographical, institutional/organisational and the societal contexts within which narratives should be analysed.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs130285

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Author Biographies

Jan K. Coetzee, University of the Free State

Jan K. COETZEE is senior professor at the University of the Free State. His main areas of specialization are the narrative study of lives, qualitative methodology and the study of social change. He has published widely in these areas and serves on the boards of international research committees and academic journals.

Florian Elliker, University of St. Gallen

Florian ELLIKER works as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of the Free State. He obtained his PhD at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). His research interests include sociology of knowledge approach to discourse, the narrative study of lives, sociology of the local, transformation, political discourses and discourses on migration, qualitative social research methodology, sociology of culture and of tourism.

Asta Rau, University of the Free State

Asta RAU is senior researcher at the Centre for Health Systems Research & Development (CHSR&D) at the University of the Free State. She is a professional researcher in the fields of HIV/AIDS, media leadership, higher education, and monitoring & evaluation. She is also involved in research capacity building.

Published
2013-03-12
How to Cite
Coetzee, J. K., Elliker, F., & Rau, A. (2013). Training for Advanced Research in the Narrative Study of Lives Within the Context of Political and Educational Transformation: A Case Study in South Africa. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-14.2.1972
Section
Single Contributions

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