Life stories and sociological imagination: Understanding identity in France and Sweden vis-à-vis the life works of Faudel and Adam Tensta

Open Access
D'Urso, Alexandra
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 01, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • Meredith Christine Doran, Committee Member
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Committee Member
  • life stories
  • public pedagogy
  • Adam Tensta
  • Faudel
  • living biography
  • sociological imagination
The goal of this project was to think about identity in relation to engagement with life stories. Motivated by intensifying debates on the relevance of identity in the European Union, increasing territorial stigmatization caused in part by the effects of neoliberal social and educational policies, and growing social exclusion, this project focused on an engagement with the life works of two music artists from segregated suburban housing projects: one French (Faudel) and the second Swedish (Adam Tensta). First, a framework for engaging with life stories, living biography, was conceptualized and made relevant as a tool for exercising a sociological imagination to understand how private problems fit within a larger framework of public struggles. Second, examining how identity is discussed and constructed within and against structures in society, selected life works by Faudel and Tensta were presented and discussed. Using the researcher as a tool to exemplify how living biographies take shape, the study called attention to how living biography serves as a praxis of acting and reflecting upon life stories in relation to those of others, with the end goal of empowering individuals as intellectuals capable of theorizing and changing the world in pursuit of more just opportunities for all.