European Sociological Association Conference, Murcia, Spain Sept 23-26 2003


The 2001 Helsinki sessions of the 'Biographical' Research Network were very successful, with ten panels and over thirty-five paper presentations. At Murcia, we plan to continue some of the conversations that started in Helsinki, while adding new themes to our agenda. Accordingly, we are now calling for PROPOSALS FOR PAPERS. Your proposal should be sent as an ABSTRACT in the following format:

Paper Title Author(s) Your e-mail Your postal address An Abstract of no more than 200 words Preferred session (if you have a preference).

Abstracts should be sent by 28 February 2003 to BOTH the Chair of the 'Biography' research network: Robert Miller ( School of Sociology & Social Policy Queen's University Belfast BT7 1NN Northern Ireland, U.K.

AND to the Convenor of the session in which you would like to present your paper (listed below). Authors will be notified whether their abstract has been accepted or rejected by April 30, 2003.

If you require further information about a session (e.g., if you are not sure whether your paper fits with the topic), contact the Convenor directly.

If you feel your paper does not fit into any of the named sessions, send it directly to Robert Miller. There will be at least one 'General' session at the conference. (Please do not submit the same paper to more than one session or more than one research network.)

General information about the 6th European Conference of Sociology is located at the website:

As of now, the following sessions have been proposed:

'Biographical research: Impacting on policy and practice?' 
Convenors: Tom Wengraf and Prue Chamberlayne, United Kingdom ( & (
Tom Wengraf (Middlesex University) 24A Princes Avenue Muswell Hill London N10 3LR Prue Chamberlayne School of Health and Social Work Open University Milton Keynes MK7 6AA United Kingdom

'Biographies and Genealogies: Borders of locality in the globalizing world' 
Convenor: Oleg B. Bozhkov (

'Recherches Biographiques de Langue Française' 
Convenor: Armelle Testenoire, Université de Rouen, France (
Cette session se déroulera en français. Les résumés devront être rédigés dans les deux langues: français et anglais.

'The Role of 'Theory' in Biographical Research' 
Convenor: J.P. Roos, Finland ( Dept of Social Policy Box 18 00014 University of Helsinki 
This session will consider (among others) questions of construction, social determination, evolution of life stories etc.

'Bourdieu and Biography' 
Convenor: J.P. Roos, Finland (
In memory of Pierre Bourdieu.

'The Inter-generational Transmission of Cultural Beliefs and Practices' Convenor: Robin Humphrey, United Kingdom ( Department of Sociology & Social Policy Newcastle University Newcastle NE1 7RU

'Women in Non-traditional Professions - the Social Reaction in Different Cultures' 
Convenor: Anat Mordechai, Israel (

'Biographical Research in the Spanish context' Convenor: To be announced

'Visuality and Biographical Research' 
Convenors: Julia Vajda and Eva Kovacs, Hungary ( Institute of Sociology Budapest Univ 1446 Budapest Both aspects of our identity, our sameness and selfhood (Ricoeur) gets shaped in the form of narration -- in the narration of our life, it is based on our memory. Still, memory itself is not a narration. Narration is a means for helping us to deal with the pictures, feelings, etc. in which we remember the events of our lives. The idea of the session would be to reflect on and to discuss how the use of visual material would change narrations, or how they could 'help' our interviewees in remembering.

'Transitions in Eastern Europe' 
Convenors: Julia Vajda and Eva Kovacs, Hungary ( Institute of Sociology Budapest Univ 1446 Budapest The political transitions of the last decade faced the inhabitants of the post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe with the task of re?forming their identity and re-writing their narratives of their lives as it made the earlier ones questionable. This session will deal with the problem of the different solutions people gave to this problem.

'Migration and Narration' 
Convenor: Tamar Rapoport and Edna Lomsky Feder, Israel ( & (
School of Education Hebrew University Jerusalem The coupling of migration and narration, cross cultural movement and personal stories is becoming a common anthropological and sociological practice. Migrants' life stories offer a major interpretative tool for understanding issues related to the constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing of identity and belonging practices in migration. The deciphering of migration stories has proved to be an resourceful methodological tool in elucidating analytical issues at the heart of contemporary literature on migration: memory and nostalgia; strangeness and homecoming; place and Diaspora; hegemony and marginality. In this context we identify two important research directions that have gained little attention so far: 

  1. The longitudinal perspective: Studying the dynamics of identity and belonging over time helps to reveal trends of continuity and change of identity paths and belonging orientations, at both the individual and group levels.
  2. The phenomenon of return migration: Studying the phenomenon of 'homecoming' problematizes the identity production and belonging patterns of people who are both strangers and 'family members', as well as issues related to home, place and Diaspora. We invite papers that specifically address one of these issues, as well as more general papers that couple migration and narration.

'Biographical Research and the Feminist Movement' 
Convenors: Laura Torrabadella and Mònica Nadal, Spain (
We are interested in: · how engaged feminists refer to their past and present experiences in the present context of lower political engagement; · feminist movements during and after periods of transition; · how a biographical perspective throws light on crucial aspects of the feminist movement; and · the interplay of the biographical perspective and feminist thought. Our own work looks into the role of memory in recollecting biographical experiences of women who joined the Feminist Movement during the Spanish transition period in the 70s and are still committed today.

'Workshop on the Archiving of Qualitative Data' 
Convenor: John Given, Northumbria, United Kingdom ( The advent of the internet and the spread of digital means of recording visual and aural information is producing new possibilities for the collection and dissemination of biographical and narrative information. This workshop will feature 'real-time' demonstrations of online biographical archives and discuss issues - technical, methodological and ethical - around their management.

'Identity Forms in Late Modernity - Borderlines, Bridges and Transitions' Convenors: Ana Paula Marques and Emília Araújo, Portugal ( & ( The social world is split permanently by struggles fought between social agents where reality classification systems are at stake. One resort to the classification or categorisation of the surrounding reality aims at turning it predictable by objectifying it. At the same time, the production of those classification systems, which are, thus, organisation systems, also serves as a tool for self and hetero-identification, defining the frontiers of belonging or non-belonging, simultaneously reflecting and (re)producing divisions in society. Everything else that does not fit one of the poles is relegated to the plan of social non-existence. Thus, the questions we want to open for discussion are: What happens, then, to all those who do not effectively fit any of the polar categories? How does one live on the borderline of two margins? What does it mean, for oneself and for others, to be 'in?between', 'half way to'? How is non-belonging, non-definition, social non-existence, experienced? What strategies are developed by agents under such circumstances and what strategies are developed by social systems to deal with those who do not fit the official classification systems? How to deal with these "non-categories" when they seem to cover a growing number of individuals?

'Region and Biography: Conceptualizing the relation between an influence structure and individual actors' 
Convenor: Thomas Loer, Germany ( University of Dortmund Department of Economic and Social Sciences D-44221 Dortmund Tel: +49 (0)2 31 7 55 29 42 Fax: +49 (0)2 31 7 55 32 93 
This session is concerned with the relation of biography (the case structure of biographies) and region (as an 'influence structure'). Papers discussing the methodical and methodological problem of grasping the phenomenon of 'region' (not only in its economic sense but as a socio-cultural influence structure) are welcome as well as contributions to the theoretical problem of conceptualizing the relation of structure and actor and action/praxis as the place of practical mediation of the two (exemplified by analysing the above-named relation between biography and region).

'Life Histories and the Reconstruction of National Identity in Eastern Europe' 
Convenor: Vieda Skultans, United Kingdom ( Department of Sociology, University of Bristol, 12, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UQ. Autobiographical writing has become a dominant genre in Eastern Europe following the collapse of Communism. This panel will examine how life histories position themselves in relation to certain historical events and in turn come to determine those events as critical for the shaping of national identity. Papers are invited which address: 

The relationship between social memory and life-writing 
The role of life-writing in transforming individual suffering into social suffering 
The role of critical historical moments in life-writing 
The shaping of autobiographical experience by shared cultural plots and symbols 
The contribution of specific genres of life-writing to national identity
The convergence and divergence of personal narratives from core cultural narratives 
The distinctiveness of East European life writing 
The contribution of memory writing to the reconstruction of history

'Extending the Possibilities for Presentation & Dissemination of Narrative Studies' Convenor: Kip Jones, United Kingdom (
The emerging synthesis of the arts and social sciences present challenges to the methodological-philosophical foundations of knowledge. At the very heart of this matter is knowledge transfer. The need for innovation in dissemination of detailed descriptive information has, until recently, been neglected in the social sciences. As collage-makers, narrators of narrations, dream weavers-narrative researchers are natural allies of the arts and humanities.
Abstracts are invited that grapple with extending the possibilities of presentation and dissemination of narrative studies. Presentations using tools from the arts and humanities are especially encouraged for this conference thread. The use of other media, in addition to traditional papers, is welcomed. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, performance, dance, film, video, audio, graphic arts, new media (CD ROM, web-based production), poetry and so forth. Presentations may deal with the theoretical, methodological, ethical and mechanical issues of using such media or, simply be a presentation that uses one of the media as an example of narrative as performance.

'«Biographical Certainty». How do people organize their live-course in present society?' 
Convenor: Jens Zinn, Germany ( Fakultät SoWi Universität der Bundeswehr München D-85577 Neubiberg 
Contemporary discussions of the process of modernization reveal a loss of unambiguity (Bauman) as well as a return of uncertainty (Bonss). The discussion of change in modern societies and social individualizing processes concerns after all expectations on the individual's life-course. The starting point of the planned session is the questions: How in changing modern societies can expectations on the life-course be worked out? How can the individual life-course be managed if its central institutions, like the family or the occupation, are breaking away? What are the effects on individual's biographical action when the traditional constellations of primary social relations or work-life erode and can't be used to stabilize biographical expectations any longer? In the session both empirical results as well as conceptual questions (for example, the meanings of 'certainty', 'security' and 'safety' and its normative premises) could be discussed.

'Biographies of Ageing from Different Cultures'
Convenor: Sibel Kalaycioglu, Turkey (
The session will compare different practices and experiences of ageing from countries with different traditions and welfare system structures. Such experiences could be significant, especially in the light of current discussions on 'succesful ageing'.

'Self-reliance and Successful Life Strategies' 
Convenor: Sibel Kalaycioglu, Turkey (
With drastic changes in the welfare regimes of many Western societies, how do people cope with the responsibilities of 'developing successful life strategies' or with 'self-reliance'? Cases from Turkey or many eastern European countries also may be very relevant for the discussion of 'the personal and individual strategies in a global risk society' (Beck).

'Reflection of Cultural Traumas in Life Stories' 
Convenor: Aili Aarelaid-Tart, Estonia ( Aili Aarelaid-Tart Head of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies Institute of International and Social Studies Tallinn Pedagogical University Blvd. Estonia 7 Tallinn 10143, Estonia Tel: 372-6454498, Fax 372-6454927 Cultural trauma is a traumatic event in the life course of persons dealing with compulsory and rapid changes of previous value systems and behavioral patterns. Cultural trauma may take place as a result of the collapse of a political regime, as an unexpected effect of migration, as part of personal bankruptcy or imprisonment, or as the impact of a rapid invasion of new cultural mores into a traditional region etc. From different personal stories we could map the main strategies and behavior of winners as well as losers in these kinds of situations. We are interested in analysing traumatic collisions in the life course; stories of: - people from small places under the pressure of rapid urbanization; - - political prisoners under any kind of non-democratic regime in Europe (Stalinism, Francism, ect.); - poorly acculturated migrants; - - persons who have lost their positions in social or cultural hierarchies. The problem actually is part of the coming enlargement of the European Union where thousands of people's life courses may be put through unpredictable traumatic changes.


Members of the 'Biography' research network and indeed all researchers in these and cognate areas are invited to submit additional proposals for topics for sessions as well as individual paper abstracts.