Biographical method (English biographical approach, biographical perspective.) – A methodological approach based on sociological paradigms and sociological nominalism constructivism. Is a method of measuring and evaluating the life stories told or reported evidence of life from the standpoint of those who lived this life (Christmas, 2012: 5). Includes a set of data collection methods (narrative and leitmotiv interviews, observations, reports, letters, diaries, photographs, and so on. D.) And methods of analysis. The main problem of analysis and interpretation of data from the biographical method is to identify the socio-typical and individual characteristics of specific biographical stories.
This method as a method was first applied sociological representatives of the Chicago school of sociology W. Thomas and F. Znaniecki in the study “The Polish Peasant in Europe and America» (Thomas, Znaniecki, 1918-1920).
In the biographical studies of Western sociology are the following directions (Meshcherkina 1994: 6-7): 1) study the social determination of life paths: professional biography (Depp), separated / unseparated by gender; sociodemographic cohort study (Reeder), analyzing life trajectories of regulatory mechanisms in relation to age, social-class stratification, opportunistic cycles and crises, historical events; 2) research aimed at the reconstruction of the social experience and its semantic structures: the study of the working class consciousness (D. Berto, Leman), the collective historical consciousness (Nithammer), subcultural style forms (Clark et al).. These studies are aimed at understanding the ways of construction of subjective experience and its interpretation; 3) the study of the genesis of experience and semantic structures (F. Schuetze); 4) empirical research as biographical study of theoretical concepts: in developmental psychology (S. Buhler), psychopathology (Bisvanger). The purpose of these studies is empirical knowledge about the nature of mental and social behavior.
The experience of the biographical method in the sociology testifies to the study of various social groups in the crucial moments in the development of Russian society. As part of the research project “The age of social mobility in Russia” under the direction of VV Semenova (research initiated by the French sociologist D. Berto) reconstructed individual strategies of three generations of family (The fate of people …, 1996). The project involved VF Zhuravlev, EY Meshcherkina, SM Christmas, E. Foteeva, Mikhail Malyshev. Biographical method used in the study of life trajectories of the once privileged classes and groups (Alekseev, 2006; Novak, 2003; Tchouikina, 2000), typical representatives of Soviet society (Kozlov, 1996), feminist (Zdravomyslova, 1996), and so on.
Biographical method is widely used in ethnography, psychology. Prospects of the biographical method in sociology of youth connected with the study of the life of youth policies (Orlov, 2010). In this direction, the study conducted among young people in a number of dissertation research (Tchouikina, 2000; Novak, 2003; Alekseev, 2006; Bogdanov, 2009; Chernyshev, 2011).
Co-biography phenomenon is disclosed in the materials of the empirical study of forced migrants identified VA Lukov (Lukow, 1997). He also, together with DL Agranat biographical method used in studies of young police officers and cadets (Agranat, Lukow, 2002; Lukow, Agranat, 2005).