This is your first assessed assignment and hopefully you will be able to begin to address several of the key issues raised in the module. First you need to identify the person that you will be constructing a biography for. This may be a relative, friend, neighbour or any person you deem suitable for interview. Ideally, the person you select should be two generations away from you (e.g. your nan or any other person that you have a significant age differences). The reason to do so is to allow you to explore issues of social concern from a different perspective away from your peers and contemporaries’ experiences. Since it is a substantial piece of work you need to break it down into sections that will allow you to make sense of the narrative and explore relevant research ideas.
You can adopt a life story approach and follow that person’s main events from birth in a chronological order. If you are to follow this perspective, you have to contextualise the periods that you are referring to, in relation to wider social histories. For example: if someone is born during the 1950s considerations about the post-war generation should be included. These may relate to the end of rationing, the arrival of migrants, American popular culture and so on. Such considerations need to be contextualised both within your chosen person’s life and the wider academic literature.
Alternatively, you may prefer to focus on specific events of that person’s life. These may include marriage, military service, birth of children, divorce and so on. Again you must take care to include relevant material which relates to and contextualises the event(s) you are describing.
Regardless of the approach you choose to adopt for your biography, you need to plan in advance a number of elements:
Appropriateness of the person chosen to be interviewed
Informed consent of the interviewee
Refer to the appropriate chapter in your Study Companion
Undertake further reading on interviewing techniques and skills
Consider the ethical and physical dimensions of your interview
Plan for the collection of your data
Allow significant time for the writing up
Further information and instructions – including a demonstration – will be given in class.
Since this is an assessed piece of work, you are required to include academic related sources in your research. This should be clearly demonstrated and referenced throughout your assignment and in your bibliography/reference list at the end. Sources related to various social sciences, for example, on the history of the family, education, criminality, and culture are most relevant to this assignment. However, depending on the perspective you choose to follow you may well find many other useful sources. Use your imagination and your initiative.
This is a biography for a research methods module in Criminology and therefore identifying criminological events in the life of your selected participant are of great value. We appreciate that not all people have direct experience with crime but that does not preclude them from having opinions on crime and criminals. Whatever the situation it is extremely imperative that all opinions are addressed sensibly and sensitively and thoroughly contextualised within the finished biography.