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General Session I


Wed 26. 8.  18:00 - 19:30
room FCE D1122

Using a biographical methodological approach to explore infant feeding choices in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.


Gallagher, Justine
Northumbria University, United Kingdom

Breastfeeding provides significant health benefits to both mother and child. The average rate of breastfeeding in the UK is around 67%. Rates in areas of high social deprivation are lower than this. In the wards of Walker and Byker in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, just 47% of women breastfeed their children at birth. This paper explores how a biographical methodological approach has been used to elicit women’s ‘infant feeding stories’ in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, helping to “make sense of what has been and what is happening in…lives, cultures, communities and societies” (O’Neill, Roberts and Sparkes, 2015 p.1). These stories are part of a research study which aims to explore socio-cultural factors relating to infant feeding decisions. To date six women have been interviewed. The use of one ‘generative narrative question’ (Riemann and Schütze, 1987, p.353 cited in Flick, 2009, p.177) has allowed the women to be in control of the interview process; to tell their story without interruption and through the use of their own frame of reference and vocabulary. This approach has allowed the women space to introduce others into their stories. These social actors, friends, family members and health professionals are often included though the use of direct speech (James, Hall and Collins, submitted). It is argued that this method produces ‘a richer version of the events’ (Flick, 2009, p.179) than by using other methods. To conclude, this paper will map some of the women’s stories. This will demonstrate the complexity surrounding influences present for women during this important decision making process. Flick, U. (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research. 4th edn. London: Sage. O’Neill, M., Roberts, B. and Sparkes, A. (eds.) (2015) Advances in Biographical Methods. Creative applications. Oxon: Routledge. James, Hall and Collins (submitted) The use of direct speech and scene enactment by participants in research interviews: A window on the site of practice?