A short critical life history of life history, auto/biographical and narrative research methodology

Author: Canterbury Christ Church University

Professor Linden West
Canterbury Christ Church University

Part III of III

Part I

Part II

Professor Linden West has been a major figure in the world of Life history research for over 3 decades. In his particular field, auto/biography, Linden is a world authority and is regularly invited to speak in Australia, the Far-East, USA and numerous European countries. Linden’s role has been pivotal, not simply for the quality of his research and writing, but also for his commitment to developing academic networks that are truly inclusive – from the tentative PhD candidate to the established professor.

Linden explores his career-wide perspective on a ‘Life History of Life History research’ in an interview with Professor Hazel Reid. In this interview Linden shares his experiences of grappling with the tensions of how to represent the complexity of human life and considers his role in the early development of Life History research; particularly the importance of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA). Linden explores the important, but regularly ignored, link between the autobiographical self and the participant ‘other’ and provides examples from his own family and working life. The value of taking this approach is highlighted in discussions on Linden’s seminal work – ‘Beyond Fragments’ – on adult education, researching the complex lives of general practitioner doctors and the role and impact of Sure Start centres for marginal communities. Linden also reflects on his recent role on RANLHE Europe-wide research project on non-traditional Higher Education students. The interview comes to an end with a discussion on Linden’s most recent publication, ‘Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education’, that looks at the rise of fundamentalism in a post-industrial city and the hope that exists in a democratic education.

Video source Youtube

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