Biography: Method and techniques
This paper deals with the biography method, which is considered one of the most important methodologies in the humanities. Biography’s cognitive approach aims to monitor the intellectual dynamism in the areas of sociology and anthropology; it also aims to demonstrate the richness of Western scientific legacy, which led to the active dynamism of these writing approaches more than a century ago. Every day, researchers discover the depth and richness of biography’s indicators and cognitive implications in all scientific fields.
It is important to recognise that the Arab knowledge base is still lacking important debate on the importance of using biography method, and - among our intellectuals and academic institutions - the exchange between the fields of the social sciences and the humanities is still in the preliminary stages.
It is important to point out that social sciences such as anthropology and social psychology, which are principally based on qualitative research, are still classified as classical sociology in our institutions. This explains our lack of knowledge, although we are experiencing rapid changes. We must become aware of these cognitive and historical changes.
Biography is simply defined as the history of a life based on the memory of an individual or a specific social group with distinct cultural characteristics; this history is recounted in a narrative style. The narrator has the freedom to shape and interpret his experiences. This memory is transmitted, by the narrator himself in case of autobiography or by the researcher in the case of biography, as a realistic account of an experience in order to transport the reader to the subject’s world.
According to this definition, the cognitive uniqueness of the biography method lies in its depiction of the human experience within a specific culture, time, and place.
Like other cognitive approaches in the social sciences, the biography method is subject to intellectual debate and experimental studies. The researcher must help to interpret the debate and the narration.