CALL FOR PAPERS – Annual Conference of the Section on Biographical Research of the German Sociological Association

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    Alexandra Cuncev

    Call for Papers

    Annual Conference 2009 of the Section on Biographical Research of the German Sociological Association
    at the University of Applied Sciences Frankfurt am Main, Department of Health and Social Work, December 4 and 5, 2009

    Conditions and Processes of Socialisation into Biographical Research

    The development of more recent biographical research and other interpretive research approaches in the social sciences is closely connected to the spread of social arrangements known as “research workshops” or “interpretation groups”. Such arrangements also serve the purpose of becoming familiar with the respective approaches to analysis and gaining competency in working with them. The role of research workshops and the specific ways of communicative knowledge that are connected to them have been a topic of reflection, also in writing. At the same time we can say that we still know very little about how students and PhD students get into touch with biographical research, what their processes of socialisation into these approaches are like and under which conditions they take place. If we can become more familiar with the many different kinds of experiences in this context and begin to understand how creativity can develop – or otherwise, is prevented – we might gain important points of view towards supporting and consolidating biographical research.

    The annual conference 2009 of the Section on Biographical Research is dedicated to looking at such socialisation contexts from different perspectives, to discover paths and also detours, rat runs, trails into biographical research. This also means, first of all, that colleagues who are doing their first biographical research projects or who have concluded their PhD dissertations are being asked to express their experiences. Socialisation within different disciplines or research approaches, academic milieus and their respective problem formulations should become visible and open to discussion, so that commonalities and differences can be discovered. The success of such an endeavor depends on whether the participants are prepared to speak openly about different phases, aspects, core problems and difficulties of their projects with regard to communication (for example, difficulties in workshops) and with attempting to write about findings. Next to younger colleagues of course also those colleagues are invited to contribute to the conference who are involved in organizing the “conditions and processes of socialisation into biographical research” through research workshops, interpretation groups, etc.

    We can best do justice to our concern of self reflection by enlarging the usual format of conferences. Thus, next to working groups with conference papers and discussions there should also be open discussion forums (with short contributions to topics that are of general interest for PhD students), exchange forums on current topics of research for theses and planned projects, podium discussions with participation of the audience and, possibly, poster sessions. We invite proposals to our call for papers that also include suggestions on the framing and setting of discussion forms. Proposals should express next to the topic an indication of one’s form of participation in the program.

    To give some examples for proposals, we list the following topics (but of course other topics are also possible):

    • Processes of socialisation into different approaches of biographical research
    • Core problems, recurring irritations and uncertainties in processes of biographical research
    • Conditions, development processes, problem formulation and limitations of research workshops and other settings of research communication: as seen from the perspectives of students/PhD students on the one hand and from the perspectives of workshop organizers, on the other hand
    • The development of research workshops in different disciplines, universities, universities of applied sciences, and in different countries (including transnational workshops)
    • Carrying through and supervising biographical research projects outside of research workshops
    • The development of informal self help structures among “newcomers to research”, solidarity vs. competition
    • Transmitting and appropriating necessary writing skills and the difficulties related to both tasks
    • Biographical research in times of “Bologna”
    • The development and prevention of creativity
    • Working with data materials in foreign languages and problems of translation
    • Experiences with graduate schools

    We invite abstracts of max. 1 page until July 15, 2009. They should be sent to Gerhard Riemann ( as well as to Lena Inowlocki (

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