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1 Social Research Methods Interviews. 2 We need interviews – A model of the symbolic interactionist view of question-answer behaviour…

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Presentation on theme: "1 Social Research Methods Interviews. 2 We need interviews – A model of the symbolic interactionist view of question-answer behaviour…"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Social Research Methods Interviews

2 2 We need interviews – A model of the symbolic interactionist view of question-answer behaviour…

3 3 I Interviewer Encodes question, taking into account own purposes, and presumptions/ knowledge about the respondent, and perceptions of the respondent's presumptions/ knowledge about self (i.e. the interviewer)  II Respondent Decodes question, taking into account own purposes and presumptions/ knowledge about the interviewer, and perceptions of the interviewer's presumptions/ knowledge about self (i.e. the respondent)  IV Interviewer Decodes answer, taking into account own presumptions/ knowledge about the respondent and perceptions of the respondent's presumptions/ knowledge about self (i.e. the interviewer)  III Respondent Encodes answer, taking into account own presumption/ knowledge about the interviewer and perceptions of the interviewer's presumptions/ knowledge about self (i.e. the respondent)

4 4 But interviews are everywhere Silverman – we are part of an 'interview society'. Interviews seen as making sense of our lives. E.g. News interviews Talk shows Documentaries Research interview Interviews pervade and produce our contemporary cultural experiences and knowledge of our authentic personal, private selves. (Silverman 1993)

5 5 And, different theory suggests different interviews What is your epistemological position? Questions should connect to your ontological position The knowledge we are looking for must be linked to the ontological position. e.g. Topic = racism a study of attitudes - attitudes are meaningful components of a social world a study of discourse - our social world is constructed through the words we use a study of institutional racism - our world is seen to be structurally defined (Mason, 1996)

6 6 Advantages of Interviews Flexible, line of inquiry modifiable can use NVC for more information gets behind the immediate level of response – why might s/he hold such a view? can be used with little fore-knowledge of the situation situational - gets respondent’s view/framework/interpretation

7 7 Disadvantages not standardised not 'replicable' time consuming, expensive sometimes difficult to get co-operation of respondents results difficult and time consuming to analyse

8 8 Type of Interview - Structure Respondent Interviews - Interviewer is in charge 1. Fully structured e.g. questionnaire 2. Semi-structured – ‘check list’ perhaps some questions already worded

9 9 Type of Interview - Structure cont. Informer interviews - Interaction between researcher’s agenda and informer's agenda 3. Unstructured/ in depth – broad area, but more like a free conversations (develops as the interview progresses) To produce 'thick descriptions'. (Geertz) Interviewees are deliberately encouraged to produce elaborated and detailed answers.

10 10 Type of Interview - Situation Active Biographical Oral history Collaborative/Group (research or marketing) including Focus groups Debates and confrontational Long Interview, repeated interviews Multiple Interviewer Projective Narrative

11 11 Interview schedule/guide/question list Decide on research topic Generate puzzlements (what is problematic or interesting) Create a list of research questions (related to the topic) Generate list of issues, topic, themes, subjects etc. that people can talk about that relate to these questions Put topics in logical order and like topics together. Use comprehensible language. Avoid leading questions

12 12 Sequence of events in an interview 1. Introduction, establish relationship, explain aim of interview. 2. Who you are, what you are doing, again negotiate issues of anonymity and the boundaries of confidentiality, what will happen to any findings, how long will the interview last. 3. Warm-up, simple questions Throw-away questions, usually factual in orientation. 4. Main body of interview - shopping list of issues

13 13 Sequence of events cont. 4. Cool off questions, diffuse tensions Finish on uncontentious areas – easy questions especially if previous ones have been ‘difficult’ 5. Closure, thanks Further appointment interviewer’s responsibility, try not to run over time 6. After the tape recorder is switched off - ‘off the record’ Interviewee becomes more relaxed Makes lots of useful asides relating to your research

14 14 Types of questions 1.Factual and descriptive: Respondent provides statements about activities 2.Structural How respondents organise their knowledge, how categories are used, what words mean 3.Contrast Meaning of situations to respondents, comparison with other events in their lives

15 15 Types of questions cont. 4.Generative Question ‘The interviewer’s task is to make the informant tell the story of the area of interest in question as a consistent story of all relevant events from its beginning to its end.’ (Hermanns, 1991, p183) Usually deployed in life story or narrative research Formulated broadly but also sufficiently specific for the domain of interest to be taken up as the central theme. Crucial not to interrupt or obstruct. The interviewer listens, empathises, reinforces, tries to understand. When interviewee finished their story, interviewer can ask more direct questions, e.g. re gaps in the story or for clarification.

16 16 Berg’s Four Styles of Questions Essential Concerned with the central focus of the study May be placed together or separated throughout the schedule Extra Roughly equivalent to certain essential questions but worded slightly differently Throw-away Used to develop rapport Often at the beginning – demographics or general questions around the research Can be used for ‘cooling off’ or ‘containment’

17 17 Berg’s Four Styles cont. Probing/prompting A means of drawing out more complete accounts Asking for elaboration: ‘Could you tell me more?’ ‘What happened next?’ ‘Did it?’ ‘How Come?’ Use probes in order of imperativeness An expectant glance Um hm, mm, or yes followed by an expectant glance What else? What other reasons? What else happened? Etc. Please tell me more about that. I'm interested in all your reasons. (reserve for the most evasive respondents!)

18 18 Good Practice Listen more than you speak Use straightforward, non-threatening questions Avoid questions with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers Eliminate cues from interviewer Go with a prepared list of topics or issues Get familiar with subject matter beforehand Make good use of probes Allow respondent time to think Enjoy the interview Keep a full record of sessions Maintain confidentiality

19 19 Developing Interviewing Skills Practice Pilot Interviews (similar respondents) Video and watch own interviews

20 20 Using technology Telephone interviews Often shorter, no NVC, better for semi- structured. OK for straightforward topics, well-informed/literate respondents. CATI (computer assisted telephone interviews) usually structured. Interviewing with . Takes a long time, but can use messages for cross-reference. Not face-to-face, anonymity? Video conferencing (Skype, iChat etc.)

21 21 Recording Take notes during interview, write up notes soon afterwards about hunches, circumstances, etc. Facesheet data (on respondents and their background) Record interview Use good microphone Use good, new tapes and good recorder Cassettes best (cheap, easy to transcribe) Mini-disk good MP3 recorders (avoid dictation machine versions – not good mics) Video (more intrusive but now much cheaper) Check equipment, take spare batteries, Make duplicates ASAP

22 22 Transcription Do your own (5-6 hrs per 1 hr interview) Pay transcriber. Use transcription machine Use MP3 version and transcription software Use voice recognition software (by re- speaking what you hear) Check accuracy of transcriptions.


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