Metodologiska val i studien av biografiskt material - metodologiska val och deras epistemologiska konsekvenser i studien av biografiskt material
AbstractEpistemological Questions Concerning the Study of Biographical. Material: The Consequences of Choise of Methodology Using my own research on written life stories of Finnish lone mothers as a case study, this paper examines the consequences of choice of methodology when using biographical material as data. I focus on two methodo-logical alternatives: analysing biographical material as documents of preceding events, or as meaning-making con-structs. Treating biographical material as a gateway into studying events in people’s lives reduces the heuristic value of the material, and consequently questions of truth and reliability become problematic. Nevertheless, this still seems to be the preferred methodological alternative of many sociologists. If biographical material is analysed for its own sake, focussing on the creation of meaning through story-telling, the above-mentioned problems of truth and reliability diminish considerably. Using research on lone motherhood as an example, I ex-plore arguments for the use of narrative analysis, examining what it has to offer methodologically, theoreti-cally and conceptually.