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The Researchers' Perspective: Working with two temporalities: life history and diary data Joanna Bornat and Bill Bytheway The Open University.

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Presentation on theme: "The Researchers' Perspective: Working with two temporalities: life history and diary data Joanna Bornat and Bill Bytheway The Open University."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Researchers' Perspective: Working with two temporalities: life history and diary data Joanna Bornat and Bill Bytheway The Open University

2 Aims of this paper How we recruited participants, informed them of what was involved and gained their consent to data being archived How we have anonymised these linked data sets How we have undertaken some primary analyses How we are regulating access by secondary analysts

3 Fieldwork for The Oldest Generation (TOG) project An eighteen month period, autumn 2007 to summer 2009 Twelve diverse families, each including at least one person aged 75 or more, recruited through the UK-wide Open University network One member of the family aged 75 or more, nominated as the Senior One member nominated as the Recorder

4 Methods Life history interviews with the 12 seniors, autumn 2007 Diaries kept by the 12 recorders over an 18-month period Photographs taken by the recorders and others Monthly contact with the recorders Follow-up interviews with the seniors, spring 2009

5 Recruitment Circular to the UK-wide OU network inviting volunteers Selection in order to maximise diversity Induction Maintaining participation

6 Informed consent The original invitation The induction and introductions Monthly contact re. diaries Regular newsletters

7 Life history interviews First interview: Childhood experiences and subsequent life events Current domestic circumstances and family-related activities Follow-up interview: Changes and events since first interview The economic downturn The future

8 Diaries 7 daughters 2 sons 1 niece I husband I self (the senior kept his own diary) Events (celebrations, visits) Life transitions (moving house, going into hospital) Activities etc. of the senior

9 Photographs Taken to record: ‘life in and around where your Senior lives, family events and commemorations, and anything else that you think reflects the kinds of networks you all maintain as a family’.

10 Comparing data sources Life historiesDiariesPhotographs RetrospectiveContinuing contemporary Instant OralWrittenVisual Biographical (but based on answers to questions) AutobiographicalStatic The individual perspective A collective perspectiveAn image Past (historical time) and prospective Continuous present (eventual historical time) Present (eventual historical time)

11 Five primary analyses 1 Orientations towards the future (21 st Century Society) 2 Attitudes to risk (Brit J Soc Work) 3Memories of significant events 4Embodiment in later life 5Life transitions

12 One example of how we have used evidence from the three datasets Recollections of a childhood experience: An extract from an interview with the senior, The entry in the diary for A photograph taken on

13 An extract from the interview with Alice Watson, […] I wouldn’t, I couldn’t. I don’t know why. I knew she was dying. Why couldn’t I go and see her? And I went a few weeks ago with my friend and we sat at the house opposite, and I said “That’s where my Grandma was” I said, “and my Grandma died you know upstairs there” I said. “Do you know Mary,” I said, “I sat,” I said, “and I would not go and see her.” I said “Do you know, if that were me today,” I said “and I was in bed and I knew my granddaughter was downstairs and wasn’t coming up,” I said “Do you know?” I said “I know now how I feel”. But I could not.

14 The same event as recorded in the diary kept by Alice’s son, Brian, As the weather is mild and pleasant Mother took a bus to Updale (see photographs). Mother reported Updale as quiet 'not many visitors around'. Just the locals going about their business. Mother took a photograph of her grandmother's cottage. Mother remembers having to take flowers when Grandmother was poorly, but refused to go upstairs and sat downstairs until it was time to go home. She was ill at the time and now feels a little ashamed of herself.

15 The photograph that illustrates the story: Alice Watson visiting her grandmother’s cottage,

16 Access to TOG data Primary research team Approved researchers Researchers registered with Timescapes Access to the general public


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