Life History Analysis and Racial Stratification Research
This chapter reviews conventional life history methods used in race relations research. It suggests a more fruitful way of collecting and using life history data in building race relations theories and theories about racial minority social life with an emphasis on social-stratification issues. The chapter discusses the works of not only sociologists but other social scientists and humanists as well who have offered life history analysis relevant to the sociology of race relations. Oral histories are particularly useful for collecting and analyzing the life stories of those without the skills or resources needed to write and publish their autobiographies. The general-survey approach involves using a highly structured survey questionnaire to collect and analyze life history data in a large sample of subjects. Fictional biography in race relations research has the distinct advantage of authors being able to raise ultra sensitive social issues and publishing their views under the guise of fiction.