Review: Ardra L. Cole & J. Gary Knowles (Eds.) (2001). Lives in Context: The Art of Life History Research


  • Volker Wedekind University of KwaZulu-Natal



life history research, arts-informed research, research methodology


COLE and KNOWLES present a book that is simultaneously an introduction to the field, an edited collection of mainly Canadian examples of research issues emerging from the field and a manifesto for arts-informed research. The book is divided into two sections: the first part is written by COLE and KNOWLES and is 100+ pages pre­senting a useful overview of the life history field and providing guidelines for "doing" life history research; the second part consists of 13 edited chapters which demonstrate both the range of uses of life history research and the spectrum of methods employed. The particular focus of this book that distinguishes it from other life-history method books is its focus on the use of arts-informed research. This is the major strength of the book and, while the review raises some criticisms, it is worth reading it for this discussion. Its weak­nesses relate to its multiple purpose, its lack of visual exemplars and its limited engagement with issues such as the social value of life-history work. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs040342


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Volker Wedekind, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Volker WEDEKIND is currently Head of the School of Education, Training and Development of the newly merged University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. His research interests focus on teachers and curriculum and he has published on the impact of desegregation in South African schools, the role of friendship in school organisations and on the impact of policy developments on teachers. His PhD focused on the lives and careers of South African teachers by drawing on life history data. In a previous volume of FQS Volker WEDEKIND reviewed "Documents of Life 2: An Invitation to a Critical Humanism" (




How to Cite

Wedekind, V. (2004). Review: Ardra L. Cole & J. Gary Knowles (Eds.) (2001). Lives in Context: The Art of Life History Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 5(3).