Session 13

SMUSI_13- Discourse Analysis, Historical Analysis and Biographical Research: Multi-Method Approaches in Interpretive Empirical Research

The interpretive paradigm in recent years has produced various methods that have further led to the development of different theoretical perspectives on social phenomena and corresponding methods. This in essence has created a diverse field. Rarely, however, such distinct approaches are related to each other. Biographical research for instance is an example of the methods of knowledge production that stem from the interpretive tradition. As a research approach, biographical research combines different data, methods and theoretical perspectives such as discourse analysis, image analysis, analysis of group discussions and analysis of documents – to name just a few – in order to develop a process-oriented sociology that takes into account the historical-collective contexts of biographies. Although in sociological biographical research from the beginning with the study of Thomas and Znaniecki,  the combination of different methods was worked with often the idea which persists that biographical research focuses only on autobiographical material (like interviews or diaries). Against this background, a more explicit methodological discussion about the different combinations of methods has been increasingly discussed in the last decades. Against this background, this session focuses on multi-method approaches in the context of interpretive methods and examines questions like What specific context(s) would prompt multi-method approaches from an interpretive perspective? What can specific approaches learn from each other? What is the “benefit” and what are the challenges of combining diverse interpretive methods in doing research? How do we navigate these challenges? We would like to invite colleagues with experience in combining various interpretive approaches to discuss such combinations in the context of specific empirical projects.