Prof. Rachel Thomson 

University of Sussex, UK

Professor Rachel Thomson is a sociologist whose research interests include the study of the life course and transitions, as well as the interdisciplinary fields of gender and sexuality studies. She is a methodological innovator and is especially interested in capturing lived experience, social processes and the interplay of biographical and historical time.

Her qualitative longitudinal studies include e g. Making Modern Mothers (2005–2020), an intergenerational investigation into the transition to new parenthood; Inventing Adulthoods, a landmark qualitative longitudinal study of 100 young people's transitions to adulthood during a period of rapid social change between 1996–2006 in England and 1996–2010 in Northern Ireland; and Researching Everyday Childhoods (2005-2015) which focuses on the relationship between technological, cultural and embodied processes in children's lives. She has co-edited two special issues of the International Journal of Social Research Methodologyon QLR in 2003 (6:3) and 2015 (18:3), and with Julie McLeod authored Researching Social Change: Qualitative Approaches (Sage).

Her current work includes a book project bringing together learning from Reanimating Data: Experiments with People, Places and Archives. She is also working with colleagues Janet Boddy and Linda Morrice to undertake a feasibility study on a possible qualitative longitudinal study of seldom heard groups linked to a new birth cohort.

A case of you? Working through individuals biographies in qualitative longitudinal research

In this paper I will focus on the importance of the 'case' within qualitative longitudinal research and the implications of a default focus on the individual as the 'case' in question. The paper will consider the use of cases in QLR in relation to (i) data generation (including sampling); (ii) data organisation and analysis (including the case profile); (iii) cases and representation (including the archive, case history and case study). The paper will be framed by a discussion of a wider literature on 'the case' as a trope that spans and connects disciplines and will conclude with some reflections of how thinking through cases allows us to think with time. The paper will be illustrated with examples from the authors own research spanning 20 years of experience in qualitative longitudinal research. Particular attention will be paid to examples that illustrate themes around rurality that are the focus of this collection.

Prof. Julie McLeod 

University of Melbourne, Australia

Professor Julie McLeod is a Professor of Curriculum, Equity and Social Change in the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has been at the forefront in developing methodological and conceptual approaches in qualitative longitudinal research, and in forging new perspectives on questions of temporality and change in educational research. Her research focuses on the history and sociology of education, focusing on youth, gender, inequalities, curriculum, and educational reform; and her theoretical background has been shaped by feminism and the post-structural turn evident in Foucauldian and genealogical studies. She has a longstanding interest in genealogies of educational ideas and qualitative methodologies, including digital methods and data archiving. Current research projects include 'Progressive Education and Race: A transnational Australian history, 1920s-50s; Schooling Memories: oral histories of schooling in the mid decades of the 20th century; and Making Futures a longitudinal study of youth identities, generational change and education. Books include: Temporality, Space and Place in Education and Youth Research (2023); Uneven Space-Times of Education: Historical Sociologies of Concepts, Methods and Practices, (2018); Rethinking Youth Wellbeing, (2015); The Promise of the New and Genealogies of Educational Reform (2015); Researching Social Change: Qualitative Approaches (2009); and Making Modern Lives: Subjectivity, Schooling and Social Change (2006).

Historicising methods and questions in qualitative longitudinal research

This presentation takes up the invitation of the symposium to explore concepts of time and temporality in qualitative longitudinal research and the kind of knowledge about individuals, groups and societies the longitudinal gaze produces. It does so by bringing an historical lens to how questions of identity and processes of inequality and change are framed in studies with some shared concerns but undertaken in different periods and places. What might be involved in historicising the methods and questions that animate the design and positioning of qualitative longitudinal research projects, in this case those about young people and schooling? The initial focus is on juxtaposing two QLR projects that followed students through secondary schooling and into the first year beyond, Making Modern Lives (2006); and Making Futures (2014). These projects (on which I worked) were begun close to two decades apart and asked related questions about school cultures, gender, and young people's imaginaries, pathways, and possibilities. Making Futures was deliberately in dialogue with the earlier Making Modern Lives, and I consider some similarities and differences between them regarding approach to analysis, observations, and insights. I argue that reflecting on the different theoretical and methodological concerns that framed these studies opens up a way into exploring the temporality of methods, and the situatedness of concepts and of 'questions that matter'. And I point to some of the ways in which qualitative longitudinal research both illuminates and complicates these arguments.