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Jo Helle-Valle Qualitative interviews Two texts: Steinar Kvale & Svend Brinkmann: InterViews. Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing.

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Presentation on theme: "Jo Helle-Valle Qualitative interviews Two texts: Steinar Kvale & Svend Brinkmann: InterViews. Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jo Helle-Valle Qualitative interviews Two texts: Steinar Kvale & Svend Brinkmann: InterViews. Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing. (2009) and Robert Thomas: Studying elite using qualitative methods. (1995)

2 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann Overall: Qualitative interviewing is a craft – something that has its own rules and that needs to be learned through practicing. You deal with real people and hence the quality of the interview depends on your social skills.

3 Jo Helle-Valle Some context Types –structured –semi-structured –Unstructured ’The anthropological interview’ Kaarhus, Randi Intervjuer i samfunnsvitenskapene. Bidrag til en videre metodologisk diskurs. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning 40(1): language is descriptive and performative positivist science: language only as descriptive hermeneutic: language both descriptive and performative

4 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) ”No standard procedures or rules exist for conducting a research interview or an entire interview investigation” (p. 99). Qualitative interviewing is a craft. Learning needs partly to be done through reading and thinking but first of all through practicing it – trial and error

5 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) 7 stages of an interview inquiery Purpose of an investigation Designing the study Conducting the interview Preparation for analysis Deciding what mode of analysis Assess the validity, reliability and generalisability of the study Communicate the findings (reporting) Not a linear prosess

6 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) We always need to ask: Why – clarifying the purpose of the study What – getting to know the subject matter How – the techniques/methods for obtaining information

7 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) Method design: Overall strategy – always keep in mind the overall goal Flexible strategy – be prepared to alter and change Push forward – clarify, elaborate, challenge Back and forth – ’hermeneutical’ process Adjust ambitions to means Keep records

8 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) How many interviews? Depend on the theme and design – often too many When not to interview!? Fieldwork, observation, survey, etc. What is the interview best suited for? Meanings attitudes, opinions, … But how generalisable? Mixed methods: methodological triangulation.

9 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) Conducting an interview: Structured, semi-structured or unstructured? Dialogical Be prepared – but flexible. Interviews are a multi-medial experience: seeing, smelling, hearing, … What is the goal: face value (people’s opinion) or ’the doctor’

10 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) Variations of interviews: Purpose decides type of interview: length, structure, setting, etc. Theme, age, gender, culture, class, etc.

11 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) Types: Focus groups Factual interviews Conceptual interviews Narrative interviews Discursive interviews Confrontational interviews Key informant?

12 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) Criticisms: Not scientific Not objective Not hypothesis testing Not reliable Not valid Not generalisable Ethical issues?

13 Jo Helle-Valle Kvale & Brinkmann (cont.) Transcription Who trascribes? Why transcribe? How to transcribe? Initial analysis ’1000-page question’ Dialectical, spiralling process; thinking, reading, analysing, writing, thinking, reading, …

14 Jo Helle-Valle Thomas: Interviewing important people in big companies Methods for studying elites: Getting ready: selves: - Yourself - The other Access – a crux Getting data: Used to talk, avoid problematic issues, etc. Power-relationship

15 Jo Helle-Valle Some additional perspectives Flyvbjerg, Bent Rationalitet og magt. Bind 1: Det konkretes vitenskap. Kjøbenhavn: Akademisk Forlag. Kaarhus, Randi Intervjuer i samfunnsvitenskapene. Bidrag til en videre metodologisk diskurs. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning 40(1): Vike, Halvard Semantikk og politikk. Tegn og handling i lokalpolitiske prosesser. Sosiologisk årbok 4(2), Wikan, Unni Beyond the Words: The Power of Resonance. American Anthropologist, 19:

16 Jo Helle-Valle Ethnography Silverman, David (2006) Ch 3 “Ethnography and observation” in Interpreting Qualitative Data. Markham, Annette N. (2004). The Methods, Politics, and Ethics of representation in Online Ethnography. Taylor, T.L. (1999): Life in Virtual Worlds: Plural Existence, Multimodalities, and Other Online Research Challenges.

17 Jo Helle-Valle One conducts fieldwork in order to collect ethnographic data. And participant observation is a central method Ethnography: methodology, a perspective, a model? To do fieldwork is a craft – you have to do it Practice in everyday situations: on the subway, at home, in a restaurant, etc.: acquire a feel for it.

18 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman, David (2006) Ch 3 “Ethnography and observation” in Interpreting Qualitative Data. Ethnography is the study of people in naturally occurring settings … by methods of data collection which capture their social meanings and ordinary activities, involving the researcher participating directly … Participant observation = ethnography = fieldwork (spending long time observing and interacting with informants)

19 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) From Malinowski; Polish/English social anthropologist doing research in Melanesia during and after 1. WW. Taking part in people’s everyday life over a long period of time. Getting beyond what they say they do to what they actually do. Importance of context; meaning and relevance is tied to context – thus important to be part of all relevant contexts in order to understand life-worlds

20 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) ”Do not assume that ethnography is simple to do. It involves defining a research problem, adopting a theoretical orientation, and having rigorous methods to record and analyse data.” (Silverman, p. 70) Ethnography involves at least three aspects: (i) the focus of the study (ii) Methodological choices (iii)Theoretical issues (I add: (iv) a gaze or perspective)

21 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (i)The ethnographic focus In anthropology: studies of non-Western ’tribes’ – units for study; an idea of a common culture In sociology: studies of (Western) sub-cultures In sociology: studies of the public realm (Goffman, Simmel, …) In sociology: studies of organisations

22 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues Four features: Explorative, not hypothesis-oriented Unstructured (data not easily coded) Few units, many variables (qualitative) Interpretive (seeks to understand life-worlds)

23 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues 1.Research problem 2.Research site 3.Access 4.Identity 5.Senses 6.Recoding 7.Analysis 8.Grounded theory

24 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues: 1. Research problem What do we want to study? Exploring; a constant back-and-forth between research problem, theory, methods and data: Cato Wadel (1991) Feltarbeid i egen kultur, en innføring i kvalitativt orientert samfunnsforskning. Flekkefjord: Seek.

25 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 2. Choosing research site: Silverman: ”Having worked out a research topic, you need to decide the best place to do your fieldwork” (p. 81). No; in practice there is an interplay also between topic and site: The topic suggests site but the site reflect back on the topic (and methods)

26 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 3. Gaining access: Private vs public settings? Covert vs overt?

27 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 4. Finding an identity Possible roles as fieldworker: The novice The expert A family member The friend The stranger Ascribed statuses (gender, age, ethnicity, race, etc.)

28 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 5. Looking as well as listening (also smelling, tasting, …?) The visual is very important: architecture, landscape, etc. But use all senses; for many the aim is to have a feeling of what it means to be one of ’them’. Thus, the feel of the place …

29 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 6. Recording observations Fieldnotes: how to write them? Can’t get it all but be precise: dilemmas Tape recording Film and photography? Transcribing Systematising/coding

30 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 7. Developing analysis of field data Analysis helps narrow down topic/ sharpen focus Bring forth the importance of comparison The use of cases: Have a critical application of types: random cases, information- oriented cases, deviant cases, maximum-variation cases, critical cases, paradigmatic cases Flyvbjerg, Bent Rationalitet Og Magt. Bind 1: Det Konkretes Vitenskap. Kjøbenhavn: Akademisk Forlag.

31 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (ii) Methodological issues, 8. Grounded theory Inductive approach in which the aim is to arrive at theoretical insights Data/cases  substantive theory  formal theory

32 Jo Helle-Valle Silverman (cont.) (iii) Theoretical issues Basic assumptions: –Common sense –Social practices –Phenomena Never objective – but be as objective as possible? Ethnomethodological model?

33 Jo Helle-Valle Markham, Annette N. (2004). The Methods, Politics, and Ethics of representation in Online Ethnography. About methodology in CMC (Computer-mediated communication) A total re-assessment of all qualitative research Focus on textuality (even though web-cams etc) Change in research: from utopian, theoretical in early 90s to more empirical research now Much has been labelled ethnography but shouldn’t The site: virtual – no geographical location – is that very new? What is data?

34 Jo Helle-Valle Markham (cont.) Biases (p. 266) Embodiment (p, 268) – argues that we need not go to the ’real’ embodied selves, as long as we are studying online identities YES But mixing embodiment with context here? Miller, Daniel & D. Slater (2000) The Internet: An ethnographic approach. New York: NY Univ. Press Argues that you always has to see the offline-context in order to understand the online-context. Ethical issues – In Norway: NSD …

35 Jo Helle-Valle T. L. Taylor Life in Virtual Worlds. Plural Existence, Multimodalities, and other Online Research Challenges. 1.What is involved methodologically with inhabiting a virtual space and crating a digital identity and body? 2.What is the nature of the ’material’ we are working with online? 3.Do we need off-line data when studying online reality?

36 Jo Helle-Valle Taylor (cont.) Do we need off-line data? Depend on the questions asked and the theoretical perspectives ”Questions asked”: never really discusses this properly – I return to it in the end

37 Jo Helle-Valle Taylor (cont.) Taylor links the question of methodology to how we look at embodiment, self/ identity and epistemological issues. Our performances online are formed by the virtual bodies we are (avtars). Case: a person (off-line) who takes on a male avatar identity and poses as a computer expert. Says not possible if appearing as a female avatar. Suggests that the embodied actor is ‘taking the lead’ vis a vis the (off-line) person. Also that we have a flawed idea of the person; we have biases about how consistent we are across contexts?

38 Jo Helle-Valle Taylor (cont.) Also that online, avatar-based interviews/dialogues are an important form of fieldwork – being embodied by interacting as avatars. Argues for a online data triangulation – , chat, avatars, home pages, etc. Links the issue of online vs. off-line to questions about verifiability and reliability. Refers to interviews only as factual interviews (cf. Kvale & Brinkman) – the discussion would be different if language was seen as performative. (Narrativity, discourse?)

39 Jo Helle-Valle Taylor (cont.) Objections: Which questions asked need off-line research? If it is social science should the research include off-line practice? (cf. Miller & Slater The Internet: an ethnographic approach.)

40 Jo Helle-Valle Glaser & Strauss The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies for Qualitative Research Main task: How the discovery of theory from data – systematically obatained and analysed in social research – can be furthered. This is grounded theory – and a major task for sociology Comparative methodology is a central means for furthering grounded theory

41 Jo Helle-Valle Glaser & Strauss (cont.) Grounded theory must Enable prediction and explanation Useful for theoretical advances Usable in practical application Provide a perspective on behaviour Provide a style for research Also be Verifiable Operationalable understandable

42 Jo Helle-Valle Glaser & Strauss (cont.) Verification vs. Generalisation (Logico-deductive vs inductive) Verification – today perhaps testing or falsifying Generalisation: from the particular to the general (theorising) Qualitative vs. Quantitative – (there should be) no conflict or contradiction here

43 Jo Helle-Valle Glaser & Strauss (cont.) Comparative method is to juxtapose one’s data with other, similar data to check out whether the initial evidence was correct. Is the fact a fact? ”Other, similar data” might be to compare data on e.g. education from one country with the same data from another country. Used to generate a set of concepts; ’evidence’ is used to discover concepts, which then is used to illustrate the evidence. Search for generals: map patterns and universals (e.g. incest taboo) Comparison for specifying; to distinguish a concept from seemingly similars – making a refinement through contrast

44 Jo Helle-Valle Glaser & Strauss (cont.) Such concepts are then put together into systematic theories Less critical – in the sense that one must not be overtly critical but work to develop a comprehensive system of concepts and relationships between such concepts. Should be an open process; it is a theory ’in the making’ – a work that is a collective work involving the scientific community. Two types; substantive and formal Substantive; deals with an empirical area; education, ethnicity, etc. Formal: a coceptual issue, a theme; stigma, media, economy, etc. They are middle-range; between ’minor working hypotheses’ and ’all- inclusive’, grand theories

45 Jo Helle-Valle Mjøset Can Grounded Theory Solve the Problems of its Critics? Looks at Grounded Theory through two criticisms: Goldthorpe’s Rational Action Theory rejects Grounded theory on the grounds that it does not live up to the ’standard attitude’ – i.e. positivist-like ideals Buraway rejects Grounded theory as too positivist and non-reflexive. Argues for the extended case method (Manchester School in the 50s)


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