Life history and the critique of American sociological practice

Paul C. Luken, Suzanne Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper is a contribution to the uses of life histories and the dialogue regarding the "standards" for their use. Through a meta-analysis of life histories in the United States since the publication of the Polish Peasant, we develop a typology to critically evaluate their methodological/theoretical practices in sociology. We find a broad range of uses of life histories in the areas of substantive focus, analysis, relationship of oral history and the subject, relationship of oral/life history to other materials, purpose of the research, and relationship of oral/life history to other phenomena. We conclude that life history methods have not had the transformative effect on sociology that they have had in other disciplines. By and large, the actual production of life histories continues to be ahistorical, to be characterized by abstract empiricism, to extinguish subjects, and to ignore the link between biography and history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-425
Number of pages22
JournalSociological Inquiry
Volume69
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes

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sociology
empiricism
oral history
peasant
typology
dialogue
history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Luken, P. C., & Vaughan, S. (1999). Life history and the critique of American sociological practice. Sociological Inquiry, 69(3), 404-425.

Life history and the critique of American sociological practice. / Luken, Paul C.; Vaughan, Suzanne.

In: Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 69, No. 3, 06.1999, p. 404-425.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Luken, PC & Vaughan, S 1999, 'Life history and the critique of American sociological practice', Sociological Inquiry, vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 404-425.
Luken, Paul C. ; Vaughan, Suzanne. / Life history and the critique of American sociological practice. In: Sociological Inquiry. 1999 ; Vol. 69, No. 3. pp. 404-425.
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