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The autobiographical approach from an ethnosociological perspective: pandemic narratives by higher education students
Vanessa Silva (Carvalho da Silva, V.); Tatiana Ferreira (Ferreira, T.);
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Simposio FES Impactos sociales del Covi-19. Miradas desde la sociología
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The pandemic brought us the unprecedented experience of living through an era of global risks and a risk narrative about which none of us have prior knowledge. We are experiencing an incomparable change and witnessing, with each new day, what is already one of the greatest milestones in the history of humanity in the 21st century. Speaking of the "surprising but understandable" metamorphosis of the world, Ulrich Beck, reminds us that "global risk is the daily feeling of insecurity that we can no longer accept", which forces us to remember how it threatens our own existence (2016, p.30-60). The sequence has been reversed, violations and deviations, reactions and actions come before norms, because uncertainty breaks into the world, overturning the borders that countries are now struggling to (re)erect. Societies are today confronted with the unwanted side effects of their own modernisation dynamics, often accepted as collateral damage. "What was once dismissed as totally inconceivable is happening!" (idem) and we all observe and experience it through the media. Recognising the importance and unique opportunity to record this change in the first person, within the scope of the Course Unit of Research Methods and Techniques in Social Sciences of a degree course in Social Education, family/life stories were collected on how the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was being experienced. Within the qualitative approach, the accounts of a pandemic aimed to collect information on the different ways of living the context of confinement (lock down). Through this autobiographical approach from an ethnosociological perspective, which takes the form of a life narrative (Bertaux, 2020), we were able to collect approximately 40 narratives on the experiences and trajectories, the students themselves, their families, and sociability networks imposed by SARS-CoV-2. The communication proposal results from the reflection around this ethnosociological instrument (Bertaux, 2020, p.9), based on guidelines developed by the authors and structured around several significant dimensions of the life path (filter), to which non-textual elements were also added, focusing on the presentation of this instrument, resulting in a sociological discussion about the impacts of the pandemic on ways of life and social behaviour. The instrument included the collection of autobiographical narratives on how SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was being lived through. Firstly, we focused on a description of the social, economic and geographical context, including family unit and networks of proximity characterisation, combined with the eventual existence of contamination situations by the virus, in order to cope with the experiences of entropy that resulted from it. Secondly, we aimed to immerse through different dimensions of a plural self that has been metamorphosed by the experiences and suspended life paths. This plural self, whose analogy may be compared to the existence of several layers in the individual identity, comprises, in a first instance, an individual Self, focused on the reflections around the perceptions and representations of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; a social self, on the impact of the pandemic on social relations; an institutional self, which sought to understand the difficulties and constraints in accessing and using institutional resources of different kinds; a school self, which focused on the school situation and relations, in a still initiatory path in academic life; a professional self, in the case of student workers and, finally, an economic self, which aimed at a reflection on the impact of the pandemic on the economic situation. The non-textual elements, suggested from the authors, sought to represent the different social realities of each student, sometimes in a freer way (songs, series, films, videos), and others in a more systematic and guided, as was the case of an observation exercise from an ethnographic approach called What do I see from my window. After reflecting on these qualitative instruments multiple effects, it was possible to conclude that, besides being an original form of a practical autobiographical approach, it highlighted new forms and meanings of life organisation during the lockdown, contributing to a kind of "tidying up" of the anomie and entropy experience resulted from the compulsory interruption of time, imposed by the pandemic. It also gave the possibility of knowing these changes and processes, enlightening the sociological knowledge about their impact on life and social behaviour.
autobiographical approach,ethnosociological perspective,life stories,pandemic

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