'Merrill and West deliver what they promise - a comprehensive, accessible, and practical guide to conducting biographical research. They artfully develop the story of the method by blending theoretical and disciplinary material with their own auto/biographical experiences...[They] provide a compelling portrait of the strength, power, and humanity involved in biographical research'
This book provides a good discussion of the background of the method, the context in which it has developed, and the theoretical orientations the author use. Based on their own fields of expertise in sociology and psychology, Merrill and West share their personal and professional experiences as a way of engaging the reader in meaningful learning about biographical research, which they describe as a way of "connecting disparate social phenomena and personal experience and weaving understanding between them in new and sometimes surprising ways" (2).
This may be for you if, like me, you have ever found yourself profoundly alienated from positivist notions of research, while at the same time being fascinated by the complex and vibrant stories you hear, and also the stories these encounters bring forth in you. Barbara Merrill and Linden West are concerned with the question of how biographical interviewing can be best used as a source of knowledge generation in social research. This text positions the biographical genre as offering particular insight into the production of selfhood seen as a dynamic interplay between social structure and individual lives.
British Journal of Guidance and Counselling
The textbook Merril and West, as we have seen, focuses on a very specific area of qualitative research, the use of biography as a method of inquiry and understanding the world... Researchers inserted in the use of biographies will benefit from a book that offers insights, anecdotes, recommendations, and suggestive questionning of the role of researcher and cultural background in a study.
Vanessa Garcia Diaz
Forum: Qualitative Social Research
Whether an academic veteran with years of research experience, or a graduate student just beginning the scientific journey, anyone can benefit from reading Merrill and West's study of biographical methods focused on people's lives and their unique stories... Merrill and West paint a vivid portrait explaining the difficulties, the challenges, and the diligence required to be a professional in this field. The authors are to be commended for an extremely well-written manuscript with a clearly articulated message. This book will undeniably contribute positively and significantly to the ongoing academic discourse regarding the validity of biographical methods in qualitative research.
Gregory S Gomez III