Life History as a Tool for Understanding Occupation, Identity and Context

Leah Maree Wiseman, Gail Whiteford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the unique features of life history as a research methodology and argues its value in understanding particular aspects of occupation, identity and context, in addition to illuminating the nexus between these complex and situated phenomena. The value of a life history design is illustrated using narrative extracts from a study that explored the experience of retirement for men in rural Australia. In providing a structured vehicle for participants to reflect on their personal story, this methodology revealed and captured the complex processes and strategies participants used to adapt to retirement and rework their occupational identity. Their stories provided rich narrative data, replete with insights relevant to; the meaning and patterns of their occupations, the socio-cultural and environmental contexts in which their lives have unfolded and considerations of coherence and lifespan development with respect to identity. The purpose of this discussion is to demonstrate the goodness of fit between the qualities of a life history approach and these occupational phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-114
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


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