This paper explores how qualitative research methods, and in particular life history methodologies, can provide a means for pursuing explanations of poverty dynamics. While these have been used more extensively in understandings of poverty in the West, (Bourdieu et al 1999) they remain relatively rare in studies of poverty dynamics in developing countries. In Bangladesh, with few notable exceptions (see Hartmann and Boyce 1983), analyses of poverty have utilised large scale quantitative datasets and materials gathered from group-based participatory exercises. The 'Voices of the Poor' study recently carried out by the World Bank presented testimonies from a varied group of poor people but these were presented as a compilation of pieces of information from different people rather than a detailed life history of any specific household. Although the World Bank presents 'Basrabai's Story' this is as much a story of a village than a personalised account of an individuals life.
Narratives, stories and tales: understanding povery through life history [Draft], presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 19 pp.