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The concept of biographicity was introduced into the sociological debate by German life course researcher Martin Kohli. According to Peter Alheit and Bettina Dausien, ‘biographicity’ is on the one hand a key competence in late modern societies, by which individuals continually re-interpret their lives in the social contexts in which they make new experiences and link these new experiences to what they already have learnt. Thus, they are continually re-interpreting their biography and experience their lives as dynamic and ‘mouldable’ (Alheit & Dausien 2000). Only by this competence, individuals can experience some sense of coherence manage breaks in educational trajectories and careers in the context of flexibilised work. On the other hand, biographicity is never free from societal structures, even if it is primarily to be regarded as an agency. The dialectics between subjectivity and inter-subjective recognition have been phrased as the “sociality of the biography” and the “biographicity of the social”: According to Alheit und Dausien the “latent biographicity of the social” implies that “there is no mere structural influence which determines directly the individual’s reaction” but social structure is both constitutive of and constructed by individuals’ (re-)actions” (Alheit & Dausien, 2000:410).

In GOETE, educational trajectories are analysed which includes the way in which children and young people endow them with biographical meaning. At the same time they are analysed to what extent they provide them with the key competence of reflecting their biographies.


Alheit, Peter & Dausien, Bettina (2000) ‘”Biographicity” as a basic resource of lifelong learning” in: Peter Alheit (ed.) Lifelong Learning inside and outside schools, Roskilde: Roskilde University, University of Bremen and University of Leeds, pp. 400-422.

Apitzsch, Ursula & Siouti, Irini (2007) Biographical Analysis as an Interdisciplinary Research Perspective in the Field of Migration Studies. Download:

(Barbara Stauber)