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Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

When Methods Meet

Biographical Interviews and Imagined Futures Essay Writing


This 17-minute film captures a conversation between the users of two social science research methods, biographical interviews and imagined futures essay writing. Molly Andrews and Graham Crow describe their respective approaches, after which various points of connection and contrast are explored. Although one method works with people to look back while the other looks forward, the two turn out to have much in common, including the use of imagination and the need to make sense of people’s lives in broader social and historical context. They are different but compatible.

Academics in conversation: Professor Molly Andrews, University of East London (webpage: and Professor Graham Crow, University of Edinburgh (webpage:


  • M. Andrews, Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • C. Squire, M. Andrews, M. Davis, C. Esin, B. Harrison, L.-C. Hyden, and M. Hyden, What is Narrative Research? (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).
  • M. Andrews, ‘What is narrative interviewing?’, ESRC NCRM Research Methods Festival 2012
  • D. Lyon and G. Crow, ‘The challenges and opportunities of re-studying community on Sheppey: young people’s imagined futures’, Sociological Review 60:3 (2012), pp.498-517.
  • D. Lyon, B. Morgan and G. Crow ‘Working with material from the Sheppey archive’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology 15:4 (2012), pp.301-309.
  • G. Crow and D. Lyon, ‘Turning points in work and family lives in the imagined futures of young people on Sheppey in 1978’ in M. Winterton, G. Crow and B. Morgan Brett (eds) Young Lives and Imagined Futures: Insights from Archived Data, Timescapes Working Paper 6 (2011)
  • J. Elliott, ‘Imagining a gendered future: children’s essays from the National Child Development Study in 1969’, Sociology 44:6 (2010), pp.1073-90.
  • See also the Isle of Sheppey research


We have created a downloadble resource sheet for this video. It has a transcript of the conversation, the list of references, and suggested seminar questions.