Autobiographical Methods


Social and cultural conditions and processes can be fully understood only if their subjective dimension is adequately taken into consideration by the researcher. Autobiographical methods can contribute to the solving of such problems. The author describes various kinds of autobiographical documents and discusses their source value, giving orally related life histories preference over written sources. He holds that in empirical research folklore should focus on everyday cultural behavior and usages, and that telling stories out of one's own life belongs to the most frequent subjects of everyday narrating. The particularities of recording oral life histories are systematically analysed. Although the recording situation is artificially established, the researcher should still attempt to simulate the everyday behavior of his informants. Finally, the article discusses the evaluation and analysis of extensive life historical data of several informants in view of a specific problem.

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Lehmann, A., (1979) “Autobiographical Methods”, Ethnologia Europaea 11(1), p.36-54. doi:



Albrecht Lehmann (Universität Hamburg)



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