Portraiture is a method of social science inquiry distinctive in its blending of art and science, capturing the complexity, dynamics, and subtlety of human experience and organizational life. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has pioneered this method using it to document the culture of institutions, the life stories of individuals, stages of human development, essential relationships, processes, and concepts.
The seminal text The Art and Science of Portraiture illuminates the origins, purposes, and features of this method, placing it within the larger discourse on social science inquiry and mapping it onto the broader terrain of qualitative research. It delineates the processes, methods, and strategies of research design, data collection, and analysis, and underscores the balance of structure and improvisation as well as order and creativity. This landmark contribution to the field of research methodology is an indispensable resource for the social scientist and provides general readers with new and illuminating ways of viewing the world.
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the first African-American woman in Harvard University’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor. Author, educator, researcher, philanthropist and public intellectual, she has pioneered an innovative social science method, written ten books, and serves on numerous professional and scholarly boards and committees.
Jonathan Fanton, FDR Visiting Fellow and Interim Director of Roosevelt House, continues his series of conversations with fascinating public figures with educator, researcher, author, and public intellectual Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot,
PORTRAITURE: Portraiture is a method of social science inquiry distinctive in its blending of aesthetics and empiricism to capture the complexity, dynamics, and subtlety of human experience and organizational life. It was pioneered by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, who first used it to
(this should link to the Portraiture Main Page)
SOCIAL SCIENCE SCHOLARSHIP IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: For the last 30 years I, too, have crossed boundaries, working at the margins in the in-between spaces where the ambiguities, ironies, contradictions, and paradoxes of human experience often reside. I have wanted my writings to be informative
(this should link to the Research Page)