What is the use of oral history?

Oral history is the method of recording, preserving and interpreting historical information obtained from first-hand from people, from their past experiences and memories. People are interviewed and their accounts are documented, which are then preserved as an aural record for future. The researcher can make use of audio and video tapes, and transcriptions from interviews. The interview is carried out by the researcher by spending extended time with the participant, listening to the accounts through storytelling and narration.

Oral history, though seems to be similar to in-depth interviews, but the two are different from each other. Interviews, be structured, semi- structured or unstructured, focus a specified topic and follow an interview guide. The questions asked to the respondents are similar or different depending upon the requirement. However, oral history does focus on a particular topic, yet it is far less organised than the interview method.

For instance, if one aims to study the body image issues in women at workplace, it may be apt to conduct interviews to obtain their opinions about the issue. In this method, they may also be able to explain qualitatively, how and what they feel about it and related issues. In case the researcher wants to study body image issues among working women, as a part of their life altogether, based on their experiences from childhood till present, oral history may be the suitable method. This may allow the respondent to recount personal experiences and stories.

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