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Professional Life and Work

Studying Teachers' Lives

Studying Teachers' Lives - problems and possibilities

In assessing the nature of interpretation Bertaux has reminded us that moving from personal life testimonies to wider life histories involves questions of methodological process and of power: 'What is really at stake is the relationship between the sociologist and the people who make his work possible by accepting to be interviewed on their life experiences[i].

The ethics of the relationship between the life story 'giver' and
research 'taker' are considered by Sikes and Measor in Chapter 8 but the question of power is most clearly dealt with by Casey whose summary position is very similar to that of Bertaux.

What is at stake is the power relationship between researchers and subject. Essential to my approach is a respect for the authenticity and integrity of the narrator's discourse. The speaker is seen as a subject creating her own history, rather than an object of research.

Casey, then, proceeds by stating her position, her value position,
and then devises or adopts a process of research which reflects that position, in particular as it relates to the power relation between the academically-located researcher and the teacher. The academic division of labour that Casey develops is, however, not without its problems. She argues that:

The political relations of research are designed so that the voice of the teacher can be given equal stakes with that of the academic researcher. Thus the interpretation is largely relinquished to the subjects themselves, while the researcher concentrates on discovering the patterns of priorities in the narrative texts.

[i] Bertaux, D. (ed.) (1981) Biography and Society: The Lift History Approach in the Social Sciences, California and London: Sage, p.9.

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Studying Teachers' Lives Ivor Goodson
  • Date of publication: 06/02/1992
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 272
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
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    Studying Teachers' Lives
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  • Price of book: £42.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-06858-1
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