2011 年 56 巻 1 号 p. 39-54,94
The purpose of this article is to suggest a “positivistic” methodology of oral historystudies. As is well known, there are said to be two main methodologies in oral historyresearch: positivist and constructivist. While positivist research tries to discoverhistorical/sociological facts of the past and the present, the constructivist approachfocuses on the interactional process of research and aims to write ‘ethnographies ofinterviews’ (Yamada, 2005). However, the constructivist approach seems to have two critical problems. If it focusesmerely on the interaction between interviewers and interviewees, there is no reasonto research any biography. If it advocates constructivism, then its presumption ofseparating ‘how’ and ‘what’ contradicts the principle of social constructivism. Moreover,by accepting multiple interpretations of past events, the approach opens itself tohistorical relativism, which endangers the very foundation of oral history studies. The ‘positivist’ approach, which is based on historical positivism, tries to write factsof the past and present as accurately as possible. Facts, for the ‘positivist’ approach,are what people tell, and the existence of the narrative itself. It does not separate ‘whathappened’ and ‘how it is narrated’; how it is narrated is also a present event, and even ifthe narrative is ‘false’, namely, different from the past event itself, the difference carriesmeaning, which tells us something more about ‘what happened’ and ‘what is happening’.Only by shifting our attention from story to history will sociological and historicalresearch be enabled.