Introduction Life story/history research approach is a methodological and theoretical research framework or a pedagogical approach designed to draw qualitative data from an individual’s life (Harrison 2008). In social science research, life writing is considered as a traditional research framework for analysis of people to establish what they are or are not. This facilitates an understanding of individuals based on their narratives to which a research is privy. According to Wicks and Whiteford (2006), in a particular scenario where life history research method is used, a researcher collects life histories of individuals by going beyond what they do.
An investigator listens, reads, or seeks interpretations of social phenomenon beyond their speech or actions. This paper examines how life writing is used in a form of single garden story to review how gardening is a significant theme in gendered leisure. An underlying argument is that in Bhatti's (2014) analysis of Joy's garden story, the life story method is an appropriate and effective social research methodology as it helps collects rich qualitative data through the research participant’s personal interpretations of their life events, as well as the social circumstances surrounding their basis of their life events. Life story provides a useful methodology that sociologists can use to construct social reality rather than discover social reality.
One reason for this is because a research investigator and participant are not easily separable, as the process of constructing sociological knowledge tends to be situational, contextual, and specific, as well as depends on social locations (Bhatti 2014). For instance, in Joy's story, the location is gendered, as the society expects women to say at home. Here, life story has been used to show how a home garden is a significant component of women's gendered leisure and everyday life.
Therefore, life writing is used to show how leisure activities at home are a source of constructing identity for women. Life writing also reveals the nature of leisure at homes in addition to the emotions and meanings that women attach to it from their own perspective. For instance, while Joy's story on gardening may not necessarily be representative of the social relations at a broad structure level within the positivistic sense, it provides a deeper insight into the gender identity attached to leisure activities at home. Life stories assist sociologists in gaining a deeper insight into the day to day practices of life of certain segments of the population.
Life writing provides a means for narrating the life stories of ordinary people. It also provides a means for narrating the day to day activities and routines of people's everyday lives (Dhunpath & Samuel 2009). Life story methodology has helped research into Joy’s personal experiences. As Bhatti (2014) illustrates, Joy wrote about the events of her life, her inspiration into gardening, how she challenged her husband to allow her to engage in gardening and the amount if work she encountered while gardening.
The role and significance of life story was earlier discussed by Harrison (2008). He argued that it helps explore into people’s personal experiences as the participants in the study have to narrate their own experiences, or events of their lives. Sozulki et al. (2010) also explain that by enabling people to understand themselves through the narrative, such an understanding makes it possible to sieve out the truth regarding certain social phenomenon, including the gendered perspectives on gardening.