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Interpretive Biography

Interpretive Biography

Volume: 17

September 1989 | 96 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Like all writing, biographies are interpretive. They require no less than organizing into text the chaos of human existence. Interpretive Biography Norman Denzin combines one of the oldest techniques in the social sciences and humanities with one of the newest. Bringing in elements of postmodernism and interpretive social science, he reexamines the biographical and autobiographical genres. The book points up the inherent weaknesses in traditional biographical forms, and outlines a new way in which biographies should be conceptualized and shaped.

With numerous examples taken from his own work and those of past biographies, this practical volume makes provocative reading for all social scientists.

"I believe most sociologists will find this work useful because of several contributions. Of particular merit here is the development of the sociological enterprise along lines of the ''sociological imagination.'' Denzin not only adds to the Mills tradition, but also extends it . . . most useful for those also versed in phenomenological and cognitive theories."

--Teaching Sociology

"Denzin's critical grasp of the subtle issues in biography production can serve as conceptual benchmarks in the production of biographical ''texts'' in the field."

--Nexus: The Canadian Student Journal of Anthropology

"In five short chapters, Interpretive Biography provides an excellent guide to the assumptions of the biographical method, to its key terms, and to the strategies for gathering and interpreting such materials. In this book, he introduces the key concept of epiphany, or turning points in person's lives. Along the way, a host of examples are provided, making this an extremely valuable volume for practitioners of the method."

--The Sociological Review

"Skillfully uses examples from sociological life stories to show deficiencies in current research procedures and the new dimensions that semiotic analysis can add."

--Contemporary Sociology

"A welcome addition to the literature on qualitative research methodology."

--Qualitative Studies in Education

Assumptions of the Method
A Clarification of Terms
Interpretive Guidelines
Selves, Stories and Experiences
In Conclusion
Representing Lives


Prof Denzin gives practical examples of biographies and then reviews them in an academic fashion. This is highly effective and very useful for the novice thesis writer.

Mr Nick Purkis
Interprofessional Studies, Winchester University
August 30, 2013

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ISBN: 9780803933583

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