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30th June-3rd July 2008 3rd ESRC Research Methods Festival, St. Catherines College, Oxford Life Narratives as Cases Linking Qualitative and Quantitative.

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Presentation on theme: "30th June-3rd July 2008 3rd ESRC Research Methods Festival, St. Catherines College, Oxford Life Narratives as Cases Linking Qualitative and Quantitative."— Presentation transcript:

1 30th June-3rd July rd ESRC Research Methods Festival, St. Catherines College, Oxford Life Narratives as Cases Linking Qualitative and Quantitative Longitudinal Data in a Study of Social Change in 20 th Century Ireland Jane Gray and Aileen O’Carroll Department of Sociology and NIRSA National University of Ireland, Maynooth

2 Presentation topics Overview of ‘Life Histories and Social Change Project’ Changing life courses in late modernity? Lives as cases Examples from the LHSC project Insights, problems, future agendas

3 The Life Histories and Social Change Project Objectives Develop a substantial database of qualitative life history interviews incorporating some systematically collected data Respondents selected from ‘Living in Ireland’ survey carried out as part of the European Community Household Panel ( ) Focus on three key cohorts of people born during the twentieth century Co-directed with Professor Sean O’Riain Funded by Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences

4 Changing life courses in late modernity Hypothesis of growing ‘de-standardization’ following extended period of standardization Changing relationship between state and individual Mixed evidence from quantitative research  Continuing salience of class across the life course (Whelan and Layte 2002)  Significance of transition from childhood to adulthood (Whelan)  More de-standardization in family lives than in work lives (Bruckner and Mayer 2005)

5 Social change in 20 th century Ireland and the LHSC Project cohorts Oldest cohort (born before 1935)  Economic hardship  Rural economy with high levels of emigration  Minimal state support Middle cohort (born )  Born into rural economy  Expanding state economic and social intervention  Recession during respondents middle years (1980s) Youngest cohort (born )  Many reached adulthood during incipient years of ‘Celtic Tiger’  Period of state deregulation and neo-liberal social policies

6 Lives as cases Reconstruction of life narratives incorporating multiple longitudinal data sources  Individual survey responses  Calendar sequences  Network schedules  Life story interviews Benefits  Validity and reliability  Facilitate systematic comparison  Lives as wholes  Location of lives in historical times References  Laub and Sampson (1993)  Singer et al. (1998)  Elliott (2005)

7 The Life History Calendar

8 Case selection strategies Iterative selection of cases  Initial consultation and examination of cases from Living in Ireland Survey How easy to make ends meet?  Selection of cases for reconstruction Two sample cases from middle cohort  Disappointed entrepreneur  A Constrained Life Path

9 The shape of lives How much do you think you’ve been able to shape your own life?  I suppose if you look at it and think about you’d say very much so but after what life threw you just changed direction and shaped it that way  I don’t regret anything I’ve done, because I’ve done it for the right reasons but if my circumstances had been different, if my Daddy had lived to be 60, 70 and he had been there when Mammy was alive, I think that I would have loved, loved to be a midwife I would. There are two things that I would have loved to do with my life, I would like to be either a midwife or a long distance lorry- driver.

10 Insights, problems and future agendas Strengths and limitations of each data source  Multiplying or compensating for different varieties of error and omission? Insights  Class and perceptions/experiences of poverty  Unanticipated turning points  Shape of lives Future questions and agendas


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