Recomposing persons: Scavenging and storytelling in a birth cohort archive

Penny Tinkler*, Resto Cruz, Laura Fenton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Birth cohort studies can be used not only to generate population-level quantitative data, but also to recompose persons. The crux is how we understand data and persons. Recomposition entails scavenging for various (including unrecognised) data. It foregrounds the perspective and subjectivity of survey participants, but without forgetting the partiality and incompleteness of the accounts that it may generate. Although interested in the singularity of individuals, it attends to the historical and relational embeddedness of personhood. It examines the multiple and complex temporalities that suffuse people’s lives, hence departing from linear notions of the life course. It implies involvement, as well as reflexivity, on the part of researchers. It embraces the heterogeneity and transformations over time of scientific archives and the interpretive possibilities, as well as incompleteness, of birth cohort studies data. Interested in the unfolding of lives over time, it also shines light on meaningful biographical moments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-289
Number of pages24
JournalHistory of the Human Sciences
Issue number3-4
Early online date8 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • archive
  • biography
  • birth cohort study
  • data
  • persons and personhood


Dive into the research topics of 'Recomposing persons: Scavenging and storytelling in a birth cohort archive'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this