A Joint Project Against the Backdrop of a Research Tradition: An Introduction into "Doing Biographical Research"


  • Gerhard Riemann Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences




interpretive approaches in the social sciences, narrative interview, autobiographical narrative, biographical research, migration


The purpose of this paper is twofold: It reconstructs the development of a joint endeavor of a group of social scientists trying to make their specific approaches of doing biographical research visible by focusing on one particular autobiographical narrative interview: the interview with a female labor migrant from Turkey living in a German city. The data were collected in a student research project of the late Christa HOFFMANN-RIEM. The product of this endeavor is this issue of "Forum: Qualitative Social Research"—a preliminary product since readers are invited to take part in the analysis of this interview, the transcription of which is made available to them (in the original German version and an English translation as well) and to offer their interpretations and critical comments in the future. In addition to this the reconstruction of this endeavor is placed in the context of research connected with Fritz SCHÜTZE, which initially led to the development of this type of interview—the narrative interview. Although today this type of interview is widely used it seems necessary to remind people of its history in order to avoid an undue and narrow focus on "method" or "technique." The paper emphasizes the linkage of theoretical and methodological concerns at the beginning of this development, the decision to methodically utilize off-hand-narratives of self-lived experiences for sociological field research and the turn to autobiographical narrative interviews and their sequential analysis which proved to be fruitful with regard to the discovery of "structural processes" of the life course. Thus, this research tradition contributed to the emergence and the present shape of biographical research in the social sciences. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0303185


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Author Biography

Gerhard Riemann, Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences

Gerhard RIEMANN (http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/about/editorialTeamBio/40) is a sociologist and works as a professor of social work at the Department of Social Work of the University of Bamberg. His main interests are in the fields of biographical research, narrative analysis, ethnography, and sociology of professional work.




How to Cite

Riemann, G. (2003). A Joint Project Against the Backdrop of a Research Tradition: An Introduction into "Doing Biographical Research". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-4.3.666