Dyson, Sue (2003) Life Histories: Interpreting the Subjective Reality of African Students Studying Nursing in the UK. In: Narrative, Memory and Health. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 97-104.

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

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