The zoom model: A dynamic framework for the analysis of life histories

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    71 Citations (Scopus)


    It is neither appropriate nor ethical to work with life histories in a way that writes the storytellers out of their own lives or that presents their words as an unexpurgated truth. The zoom framework encourages the examination of life histories from different perspectives, recognizing that no one perspective alone can reveal their full complexity. The macro-zoom focuses on the sociohistorical dimension, exploring collective meanings as they relate to individual experience. The meso-zoom reveals the personal level of values, interpretations and positioning. The micro-zoom focuses on the subtleties of the telling, examining emotions and voice, whereas the interactional-zoom recognizes life histories as a product of the relationship between narrator and researcher. By zooming in on each of the multiple perspectives, differing, complementary, and even contradictory data emerges. Most important, this model allows the researcher to acknowledge and productively hold in tension both the individual and collective meanings within life histories.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)393-410
    Number of pages18
    JournalQualitative Inquiry
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1999


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