Life story methods in Europe commonly belong to the field of biographical sociology. This paper points out that biographical sociology is missing from American sociology and describes in-depth two well-known methods in this field in Europe, the narrative interview and objective hermeneutics. The absence of biographical sociology from U.S. sociology should be remedied, it is argued, for the following reasons: First, an analysis of biographical patterns could counteract the heavy emphasis on social structure in American sociology and enrich certain subfields within it. For example, some of the concepts used in European biographical sociology, such as the concept of the “trajectory” can be related to conceptions of agency set forth by American and British sociologists and thus enrich sociology overall. Second, biographical sociology can help counteract the heavy orientation towards quantitative research in American sociology without falling into the pitfalls of purely interpretive methodologies. And third, biographical sociology can significantly enrich the still missing link between culture and cognition
Keywords Qualitative methods  Biographical sociology  European methods  American sociology  Cultural sociology
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DOI 10.1111/jtsb.12055
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Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences.Jon Elster - 1989 - Cambridge University Press.

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