Longitudinal qualitative studies and the reflexive self

Plumridge, L. and Thomson, R. (2003). Longitudinal qualitative studies and the reflexive self. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 6(3) pp. 213–222.

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/tsr...

Abstract

This paper reviews the utility of the framework offered by Giddens' 1991 work Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in a Late Modern Age, for the analysis of longitudinal qualitative studies. Working from two different longitudinal qualitative data sets, the authors explore the extent to which the notion of the 'reflexive project of self' and associated concepts might be operationalized to assist with the analysis and interpretation of empirical data. We first explore the notion of 'fateful moments' in a longitudinal qualitative interview-based study of young people's biographies. We then explore the importance of mechanisms of 'shame' as accompaniment to dramatic life transition, using data taken from a 3-year study of female sex workers in New Zealand. The paper concludes by arguing that although Giddens' work provides us with an interesting starting point and some useful operational tools, in practice the data outgrow the theory.

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