Presenting the landmark Pioneers life stories project, this one-of-a-kind book documents how modern social research in the UK was shaped.
It sheds new light on the lives, methods and motivations of men and women who helped develop a new world of research methodology, pioneered feminist research, and first confronted the issues of race and ethnicity.
It combines a fascinating history of the generations who built outstanding and influential social research with a valuable resource for future research and teaching on methods.
“…an elegant and accessible introduction to the fifty-eight life interviews of pioneering UK social scientists… revealing the strengths of the qualitative interview method that many of the pioneers themselves championed.” Oral History Society
"This unique project presents key social researchers’ work and lives over the course of the last century, and provides insight into change and continuity in research practice. A powerful resource." Julia Brannen, University College London
“Every research method starts out with a pioneering investigator, and the inspirational stories of the mould-breaking social scientists told here are full of curiosity, controversy, resourcefulness, ingenuity, imagination and dedication.” Graham Crow, University of Edinburgh
Paul Thompson is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. He is Founder-Editor of Oral History and Founder of National Life Stories at the British Library. He is a pioneer of oral history in Europe and author of the international classic The Voice of the Past (4th edition 2017). His other books include The Edwardians and Living the Fishing. He is co-author of Growing Up in Stepfamilies, of The Myths We Live By (with Raphael Samuel), and (with Daniel Bertaux) Pathways to Social Class.
Ken Plummer (1946-2022) was Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. He researched and wrote widely on sexuality, especially lesbian, gay and queer studies. His methodological concerns were with the development of narrative, life story, symbolic interactionism and the post-modern turn.
Neli Demireva is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex. Her research interests include migration, inter-ethnic ties, social cohesion, ethnic penalties and multiculturalism. She uses a variety of methods in her research, both quantitative and qualitative, and believes strongly in mixing methods to uncover the ‘deep stories’ of sociology.
Chapter 1 ~ Introduction: the pioneers of social research study
Voices 1 ~ Moments of discovery
Chapter 2 ~ Life stories: biography and creativity
Voices 2 ~ Beginnings
Chapter 3 ~ Contexts: Empire, politics and culture
Voices 3 ~ Old boundaries, new thoughts
Chapter 4 ~ Organising: creating research worlds
Voices 4 ~ Old and new trends
Chapter 5 ~ Fighting or mixing: quantitative and qualitative research
Voices 5 ~ Into the field
Chapter 6 ~ Fieldwork: making methods
Voices 6 ~ On the margins
Chapter 7 ~ Social divisions: class, gender, ethnicity – and more
Voices 7 ~ Reflections for the future
Chapter 8 ~ Conclusion: what can we learn?
Chapter 9 ~ Epilogue