Discourses, Dialogue and Diversity in Biographical Research

An Ecology of Life and Learning

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This book explores how narratives are deeply embodied, engaging heart, soul, as well as mind, through varying adult learner perspectives. Biographical research is not an isolated, individual, solipsistic endeavor but shaped by larger ecological interactions – in families, schools, universities, communities, societies, and networks – that can create or destroy hope.

Telling or listening to life stories celebrates complexity, messiness, and the rich potential of learning lives. The narratives in this book highlight the rapid disruption of sustainable ecologies, not only ‘natural’, physical, and biological, but also psychological, economic, relational, political, educational, cultural, and ethical. Yet, despite living in a precarious, and often frightening, liquid world, biographical research can both chronicle and illuminate how resources of hope are created in deeper, aesthetically satisfying ways. Biographical research offers insights, and even signposts, to understand and transcend the darker side of the human condition, alongside its inspirations.

Discourses, Dialogue and Diversity in Biographical Research aims to generate insight into people’s fears and anxieties but also their capacity to 'keep on keeping on' and to challenge forces that would diminish their and all our humanity. It provides a sustainable approach to creating sufficient hope in individuals and communities by showing how building meaningful dialogue, grounded in social justice, can create good enough experiences of togetherness across difference. The book illuminates what amounts to an ecology of life, learning and human flourishing in a sometimes tortured, fractious, fragmented, and fragile world, yet one still offering rich resources of hope.
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  • Introduction Towards an Ecological Perspective on Learning and the Stories People Tell
  • Conclusion An Evolution of Ideas
Alan Bainbridge, DClinSci (2012), is a Senior Lecturer in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. He has written the monograph Becoming an Education Professional (2015) and co-coordinates the ESREA Life History and Biography Network.

Laura Formenti, PhD (1996), is a Professor in General and Social Pedagogy at Milano Bicocca University, Italy. She is a co-coordinator of the Life History and Biography Network of ESREA and Chair of the Italian Universities Network for Lifelong Learning.

Linden West, PhD (1998), is Professor of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. He was co-coordinator of the ESREA Life History and Biography Network, author of diverse publications and, with Laura, winner of the Cyril O. Houle prize for outstanding literature in adult education.
The European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (Esrea)
Acknowledgements
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Towards an Ecological Perspective on Learning and the Stories People Tell
Alan Bainbridge, Laura Formenti and Linden West

PART 1: Discourses of Ecology and Learning


1 When Lake Erie Is Polluted, We Are Too
Laura Formenti and Linden West
2 Biographical Interviews and the Micro Context of Biographicity: Closely Listening for Meaning, Learning, and Voice
Rob Evans
3 Narrative Regimes: An Alliance between Descriptive Phenomenology and Biography
Hervé Breton
4 Biographical Research at the Boundary: A Careful Listening for the Micro, Meso, and Macro in End-of-Life Care
Kjetil Moen
5 Trying to Capture the Value of the ‘Live’ Conference Using an Ecological Approach
Hazel R. Wright and Marianne Høyen

PART 2: Dialogue on Learning Together, and Its Distress


6 Dynamic Ecologies of Person and Place: Dialogic Ethnographies as Public Engagement
Richard D. Sawyer
7 Beyond Truth: A Pragmatist Approach to Narrative Pedagogy in Professional Learning for Healthcare Practitioners
Laura Mazzoli Smith
8 A Key? Conflict, and the Struggle for an Ecology of Dialogue, Learning and Peace among Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Educators
Alan Bainbridge and Linden West

PART 3: Diversity as a Content and as a Feature of Biographic Enquiry


9 Understanding Women’s Lives through Critical Feminist Perspectives: Working-Class Women Students in Higher Education
Barbara Merrill
10 Some Reflections on the Meaning, Limits and Challenges of Critical Biographical Research
Fergal Finnegan
11 Storytelling, Culture, and Indigenous Methodology
Adrienne S. Chan
12 Profession Reimagined: Tackling Adult Educators’ Alienation through Multimodal Ways of Knowing
Gaia Del Negro
13 The PhD and Me: A Liminal Space
Paula Stone

Conclusion: An Evolution of Ideas: The Transformative Ecological Imagination in Adult Learning, Education, and Research
Alan Bainbridge, Laura Formenti and Linden West

Index
All those interested in using narrative, life history and biographical research methods to explore the education of adults particularly in relation to building meaningful dialogue, grounded in social justice to create good enough experiences of togetherness across difference.