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The usefulness of oral life (hi)story to understand and empower: the case of trans-racial adoption

SAGE Publications
Publication Date
  • Health And Wellbeing
  • Design


The article considers the usefulness of the oral life (hi)story approach, and in particular its qualitative method of interviewing, to researching social work issues such as trans-racial adoption. In providing clarification on the decision to use the term life (hi)story in the given (bracketed) way, a descriptive outline of the reported study’s research design into trans-racial adoption is provided. This is followed by a critically reflective assessment of the key methodological issues emanating from the study’s use of oral life (hi)story, highlighting not only its limitations but also offering guidance on its use. In doing so, it is argued that despite some discrepancies, oral life (hi)story offers access to a deeper level of understanding about adoptees’ lives. It also empowers adoptees by giving them the opportunity to speak for themselves about their own lives.

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