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The ‘Life­line’ is a tech­nique that can be used to devel­op the life his­to­ry of the peo­ple to be analysed.

Three young men looking at the water on a rocky beach

In this research, the ‘life­line’ has been used to analyse the migra­tion tra­jec­to­ry of the young peo­ple we have worked with in Spain.

Why use ‘Lifelines’?

Bio­graph­i­cal method­ol­o­gy is not just a means of under­stand­ing the real­i­ty of peo­ple and groups at risk, but has sev­er­al added val­ues that make it a very appro­pri­ate study strat­e­gy with enor­mous poten­tial from a socio-edu­ca­tion­al point of view.

For its part, the ‘life­line’ is a very sim­ple tech­nique, gov­erned by the log­ic of time (chronol­o­gy), which makes it pos­si­ble to visu­al­ize the most impor­tant mile­stones in a person’s life graph­i­cal­ly. Below is an image of one of the life­lines that were made in the LEMA project.

As can be seen, this ‘life­line’ began to be elab­o­rat­ed in a rudi­men­ta­ry man­ner based on meet­ings with the sub­ject of study, where he was asked to make a life jour­ney from his begin­nings until the time of the inter­view, high­light­ing the most sig­nif­i­cant moments accord­ing to the focus of the study.

A sheet of paper with handwritten notes
Ini­tial life­line notes. Dif­fi­cul­ties (red), help (yel­low) and goals/dreams (blue)
Lifeline visualization
Visu­al­iza­tion of the life­line in Prezi

Once this ini­tial work had been com­plet­ed, the ‘life­line’ was drawn up with the help of com­put­er pro­grammes that allowed the infor­ma­tion to be clar­i­fied and pre­sent­ed in a more appro­pri­ate way. By way of exam­ple, above right is the first slide of a ‘life­line’ pre­pared using the Prezi programme.

For a more exhaus­tive expla­na­tion of the bio­graph­i­cal method­ol­o­gy that frames the ‘life­line’ as a tech­nique of enquiry and socio-edu­ca­tion­al inter­ven­tion, we rec­om­mend the read­ings list­ed in the fol­low­ing sec­tion, elab­o­rat­ed by mem­bers of the LEMA project:


In English

Her­rera-Pas­tor, D.  & Frost, N. (2021). Basic epis­te­mol­o­gy of bio­graph­i­cal research: a review based on the extra­or­di­nary life his­to­ry of a young offend­er. Revista Lati­noamer­i­cana de Metodología de las Cien­cias Sociales (Relmecs) 11(1), e086. https://doi.org/10.24215/18537863e086

Her­rera-Pas­tor, D., Man­cila, I. y Kush­n­er, S. (2017). A cross-nar­ra­tive analy­sis in bio­graph­i­cal inquiry. A research note. The New Edu­ca­tion­al Review, 48, n. 2, 285–296. DOI: 10.15804/tner.2017.48.2.23

In Spanish

Her­rera-Pas­tor, D. y De Oña-Cots, J.M. (2021). Inves­ti­gación biográ­fi­ca: méto­do de apren­diza­je extra­or­di­nario. Dos casos de empoderamien­to y resilien­cia [Bio­graph­i­cal research: an extra­or­di­nary learn­ing method. Two cas­es of empow­er­ment and resilience]. En M.T. Castil­la (coord.). Metodologías emer­gentes en edu­cación supe­ri­or (en pren­sa). Barcelona: Octaedro.

Man­cila, I., Sol­er, C. y Her­rera-Pas­tor, D. (2020). Relatos docentes: expe­ri­en­cias y reflex­iones sobre la inclusión en Edu­cación Supe­ri­or  [Teach­ers’ sto­ries: expe­ri­ences and reflec­tions on inclu­sion in high­er edu­ca­tion]. En C. Mon­ge-López y P. Gómez-Hernán­dez (ed.). Claves para la Inclusión en Edu­cación Supe­ri­or (297–333). Madrid: Síntesis.

Her­rera Pas­tor, D., Páez Rob­les, C., Páez Rob­les, D., Por­ras Martínez, M., Ríos López, F., Sánchez Fuentes, A. y Vázquez Fran­co, Á. (2016). Sin ras­tro de edu­cación inclu­si­va en la biografía esco­lar de Raúl [With no trace of inclu­sive edu­ca­tion in Raul’s school biog­ra­phy. Sto­ry and vignettes pro­duced by a group of stu­dents]. Revista Interuni­ver­si­taria de For­ma­ción de Pro­fe­so­ra­do 87 (30.3), 137–155.

Rivas Flo­res, J.I. y Her­rera Pas­tor, D. (coords.) (2009). Voz y edu­cación. La nar­ra­ti­va como enfoque de inter­pretación de la real­i­dad [Voice and edu­ca­tion. Nar­ra­tive as an approach to inter­pret­ing real­i­ty]. Barcelona, Octaedro.

Her­rera Pas­tor, D. (2009). Memo­rias de la escuela. Revisión del for­ma­to auto­bi­ográ­fi­co [School mem­oirs. Review of the auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal for­mat]. En J.I. Rivas Flo­res y D. Her­rera Pas­tor (coords.). Voz y edu­cación. La nar­ra­ti­va como enfoque de inter­pretación de la real­i­dad (37–54). Barcelona: Octaedro.

In Portuguese

González Mon­teagu­do, J., Her­rera Pas­tor, D. y Padil­la Car­mona, M.T. (2019).  Abor­da­gens biográ­fi­co-nar­ra­ti­vas com estu­dantes uni­ver­sitários não-tradi­cionais [Bio­graph­i­cal-nar­ra­tive approach­es with non-tra­di­tion­al uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents]. En A.C. Pes­tana Fragoso y S.C. Andrade Teo­dosio (edi­tors). Dos “Novos Públi­cos” do Ensi­no Supe­ri­or aos estu­dantes “não-tradi­cionais” no Ensi­no Supe­ri­or (59–77). Coim­bra (Por­tu­gal): CINEP.