Perspectives on Intersectional Interrelations in Biographies of First-Generation Students.

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Tina MASCHMANN, Methodenzentrum Sozialwissenschaften, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany
The core business of social-constructivist biographical research is to reconstruct biographical trajectories, which are interrelated with historical societal processes and individual processes of action. By combining different approaches to the research object, and by the search for diversity of perspectives and the reconstruction of self-attributions and attributions by others, this approach is predestined to uncover processes of positioning and intersectional interactions in life-histories. As current developments in biographical research show, an explicit consideration of balances of power in individual and collective historical processes is a worthwhile addition (Rosenthal 2016). But the extent to which discrimination, exclusion processes and inequality dimensions are considered and weighted still depends largely on the sensitivity and education of the researcher.

This is why I argue for a systematic and explicit integration of the concept of intersectionality into the process of hypothesis formation and abductive inference.

I have implemented this approach in my research, which is based on biographical-narrative interviews with first-generation students and their parents and gained an insight into how the interrelationships between gender and class, or social positioning, can have effects within family systems. On the basis of a case study, I will discuss how the educational advancement of a child may shift the balance of power in the family system, and why parents sometimes find it harder to deal with the educational advancement of their child if it is a girl.