'One participant said…’: The implications of quotations from biographical talk.
Qualitative Research, 12(4),
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Quotations from biographical talk are widely used in the presentation and writing up of qualitative research. This article discusses the unintended implications which such quotations can carry, partly as a result of the conventions for introducing them and because the basis for their selection is often unclear. These implications are discussed in terms of consistency. An assumption of consistency as an aspect of the talk or the person speaking is problematic because it disregards the situated and variable nature of talk, including talk about memory, and can invoke an over-simple model of the speaker. The article proposes that consistency should not be assumed but become a focus for analysis. An example is presented of an analysis of biographical talk about creative work, following an approach derived from social and discursive psychology. Consistencies in a speaker’s repeated accounts of the same job are interpreted in terms of both discursive resources around contemporary creative working, and ‘local resources’ which are derived from the speaker’s ‘discursive apprenticeship’ with his own family.
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