In order to research the identities of young people in contemporary Europe I designed a participatory project which relied on the application of a multi-method autobiographical approach. The project fully involved the young participants as co-researchers, assigning them a guiding role, and allowing them to provide the identity narratives which were most significant to them, in their own terms. The multi-method autobiographical approach that I present here was designed so to study identities as dialogical constructions, on the basis of a holistic ‘self+other’ model, which assumes that the dimension of dialogue and the relationship with the other from us are fundamental in the process of identity definition. Main aim of the approach was encouraging reflexivity, and it offered a variety of media for the young participants to narrate their life-stories. Centring on the production of a one-week diary, it involved also two open- ended interviews, as well as the use of visual methods, the projective technique of the self-portrait, and the collection of participants’ own photographs. The young people responded enthusiastically to this methodology, which sometimes also empowered them over their lives. Its flexible and open structure effectively allowed them to guide the research in the directions they wanted, being sensitive to their own preferred ways of self-expression. The use of written and visual methods significantly widened the area of research, accessing data that might have been difficult to gather otherwise.
Sociological Research Online – SAGE
Published: May 1, 2004
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