Assembling life history narratives from quantitative longitudinal panel data: what’s the story for families using social work?
Embedded within quantitative longitudinal panel or cohort studies is narrative potential that is arguably untapped but might enrich our understanding of individual and social lives across time. This paper discusses a methodology to assemble the life history narratives of families using social work by drawing on quantitative data from the British Household Panel Survey. It explores whether this person-centred approach helps us to understand the counterintuitive results of a parallel multivariate analyses, which suggest that families using social work fare worse than similar others over time. Our findings are tentative, due to the experimental use of this narrative method and the limits of social work information in the dataset. Nonetheless, the life histories presented bring to light complexities, diversity and the non-linear pathways between families’ needs, support and outcomes that the aggregates obscure. We conclude that reconstructing families’ lives in this way, especially in the absence of complementary longitudinal qualitative data, affords the wider opportunity to interrogate and better understand the findings of quantitative longitudinal studies.
International Journal of Social Research Methodology
University of Sussex Research Online - http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/66028/
Not held in Hilary Doughty Research Library - bibliographic reference only; Forthcoming - Accepted