Practice in the Making: Memoranda

Memorandum 3

Some thoughts about our (temporal) data collection and analysis methods – written after speaking at the 4S EASST conference on the subject of “Energy, biography and self design”


by Karen Henwood, 23 October 2012

In some of our previously published work (Henwood and Shirani, 2012; Shirani and Henwood, 2011) we have developed practical data collection and analysis methods for studying the significance for identity production of the ways in which modern citizens make sense of the dynamics (continuities and changes) of their lived experiences.

The subjective perceptions, perceived temporal connections/disconnections and related processes of meaning making focussed upon in these studies bring clearly into view the ways in which peoples’ lives and worlds are (textually/meaningfully and practically) organised in and through time.

For our current EB’s work, foregrounding textural and temporal processes through the use of these methods will allow for analysis of the significance of lifecourse/biographical processes to identity constitutive processes and dynamics as they relate to the (de)intensification of patterns of consumption and energy demand reduction trajectories.

Some of the research conducted for the MaF project (Finn and Henwood, 2009) also emphasised how lifecourse/biographical processes may be but one part of the nexus of the dynamic, psychosocial processes involved in the configuring or assembling of identities in and through time.

Lifecourse/temporal organisation may, or may not, in itself give us leverage on understanding the cultural logics and deeper workings of identity.  But being able to conduct research in and through time can potentially provide greater insight into the workings of strong cultural norms at play and that involve the in-depth production of identity (or subjectivity).

Research conducted in this vein has brought to light the concept of “identificatory imaginings” (Henwood and Finn, 2010) that enable connections and disconnections to be made between different historical cohorts and put it to work in the study of inter-generational transmissions (Coltart and Henwood, 2012).

For our energy biographies study we will be seeking to uncover whether the temporal organisation of the lifecourse and dynamic psychosocial processes dancing to other tunes of socially and psychologically organised life are implicated in the ways in which energy transitions are working through into people’s  everyday lives.

Finn, M. and Henwood, K. (2009) “Exploring masculinities within men’s identificatory imaginings of first time fatherhood”, British Journal of Social Psychology. 48(3), 547-562.
Coltart, C. and Henwood, K. (2012) On paternal subjectivity: Qualitative longitudinal and psychosocial case analysis of men’s classed positions and transitions to first-time fatherhood. Qualitative Research. 12 (1) 35-52.
Henwood, K. and Finn, M. (2010) Researching masculine & paternal subjects in times of change: Insights from a QLL and psychosocial case study. In Thomson, R. (ed) Timescapes Working Paper Series 3. Intensity and Insight: Qualitative Longitudinal Methods as a Route to the Psycho-social. (
Henwood, K. and Shirani, F. (2012) Researching the Temporal. In Cooper, H. (Ed) Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology. APA Publications
Shirani, F. and Henwood, K. (2011) Continuity and Change in a qualitative longitudinal study of fatherhood: Relevance without responsibility. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 14 (1) pp17-29.