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What’s Your History? Methodological Prospects and Challenges of Using Life-History Narratives as an Alternative Method to Assess Nonprofits’ Impacts

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Abstract

To study the social impacts of third sector organizations seeking the integration of vulnerable populations, we explored an alternative approach: life-history narratives. In this methodological article, we present and detail the steps followed in qualitative research applying this approach. We depict the conceptual and methodological underpinnings of life-history narratives, from the individual narratives to the construction of a typology, in consideration of the broader social context. We also address the challenges encountered in this type of research and then share some of the general results from our specific project to highlight the richness of the approach. Our contribution offers a deep-seated exploration of complex methodologies that involve working with third sector organizations toward concrete alternative means of impact assessment, and the consideration of effects on individual trajectories anchored and situated in more macro, societal context.

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Acknowledgements

The research was financially supported by the Partnership Support Program (Service aux collectivités) of Université du Québec à Montréal, PAFARC-2. It also benefitted from the Quebec Research Funds (FQRSC- Fonds québécois de recherche société et culture, grant 2019-NP-254413).

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Correspondence to Sonia Tello-Rozas.

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Tello-Rozas, S., Michaud, V. & Rhéaume, J. What’s Your History? Methodological Prospects and Challenges of Using Life-History Narratives as an Alternative Method to Assess Nonprofits’ Impacts. Voluntas 33, 1122–1131 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-021-00408-9

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