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Life Histories: Interpreting the Subjective Reality of African Students Studying Nursing in the UK

By Sue Dyson

Abstract

In this chapter I consider the question of whether life history method can ever\ud be more than simply ‘journalism or biography’ (Faraday and Plummer, 1979,\ud p.774) or whether the strength of life history lies in its ability to penetrate the\ud subjective reality of the individual (Goodson, 1991). I begin by exploring the\ud vexed question of internal validity, external validity and reliability within the\ud context of the debate about the so called ‘subjective’ nature of life history\ud research. The view taken is that whilst life history provides an important\ud mechanism for ensuring that less powerful groups in society are given a\ud ‘voice’, in order to do so the researcher has to be prepared to abandon the\ud search for what constitutes an absolute ‘truthful’ account, in an effort to accept\ud the ‘story’ as recounted by the ‘teller’.\ud The use of life histories in nurse education is examined, as a way of\ud penetrating the subjective reality of a particular group of life history subjects,\ud namely African students studying nursing in the United Kingdom (UK). The\ud chapter begins with a discussion of validity within the method before\ud examining the impetus for one particular life history study

Topics: RT, H1, LB2300, BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:5121

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