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Qualitative Interviewing Approaches and practical issues 05/02/2008 Marta Trzebiatowska.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Interviewing Approaches and practical issues 05/02/2008 Marta Trzebiatowska."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Interviewing Approaches and practical issues 05/02/2008 Marta Trzebiatowska

2 Lecture outline Qualitative vs. quantitative interviews What is distinctive about qualitative interviewing? Implications for interview design Categories How to prepare for an interview Sampling/choosing your interviewees Group interviews ( focus groups ) Interview schedule and setting up an interview Conduct during an interview Truth and validity Recording and transcribing Bryman (2004), Ch15 and Ch 16

3 Qualitative vs. quantitative Qualitative interviews Unstructured/semi- structured Schedule flexible Speaking off-topic as desirable Rich and detailed answers desirable Quantitative interviews Structured Schedule rigid Speaking off-topic as an obstacle Brief and easily coded answers desirable

4 What is distinctive about qualitative interviewing? Intense listening A systematic effort to hear data Respect for your interviewees In-depth exploration of the topic Openness to new understandings and meanings A great adventure (Rubin and Rubin, 1995)

5 How do qualitative interviews differ from conversations? The researcher has a goal Interviews are a research tool Interviews are recorded More depth than an ordinary conversation (probing, listening without interrupting) The data are analysed and shared through publications With strangers and acquaintances

6 Implications for interview design 1. Finding out detailed information about how your interviewees understood what they saw, heard and experienced It helps to understand what they think and ground it in the context of their experience (nuance, detail, evidence)

7 Implications for interview design 2. Awareness of our relationship with the interview partner How do they perceive us? How do these perceptions affect what they reveal? Obligation on both sides

8 Implications for interview design 3. Qualitative interviews are personal! Who you are and how you deal with the interview situation matters Your reactions (verbal, facial expressions, gestures) will determine the interviewee s reactions: mutually reinforcing

9 Categories Unstructured interviews Semi-structured interviews Topical oral histories Life (hi)stories Evaluation interviews Focus group interviews

10 Life (hi)stories Focus on the experience of the individual and what they felt as they passed through different stages of life A window on social change

11 What do we consider when preparing for a life story interview? a sketch of the stages or phases of your life; a sense of the pivotal events in your life; key themes around work, love and play ; conflicts; key people; the artefacts of your life; your changing body and the places in has been; spiritual quests; coherence and contradiction in your life; a chart of how you have seen yourself at different stages of your life: who are you now, how have you changed?; life secrets you cannot tell (Plummer, 2001: 123)

12 Group interviews/focus groups A focus group A group interview Centred on a specific topic Co-ordinated by a moderator/facilitator To generate qualitative data by capitalising on the interaction within the group setting

13 When to use focus groups? When developing guidelines for future research The purpose of the research is to uncover factors relating to complex behaviour When looking for ideas emerging from the group

14 Preparing for qualitative interviewing What s the problem? What do I want to know? Start from a broader theme, then narrow it down The topic will be modified by what the interviewee says Is your topic appropriate for qualitative interviewing?

15 Research topic You must be interested in the issues and the topic must be grounded in the lives of your interviewees Ideas for qualitative interviewing come from everywhere Curiosity or political commitment may motivate you

16 Sample Representative not always possible Depends on the topic: you may wish to interview individuals who have the kind of knowledge you are interested in (purposive sampling) Snowball sampling Theoretical sampling (interviewing until you reach data saturation and letting your theory guide your choice of interviewees) … or interviewing whoever you can get hold of! (convenience sampling)

17 Interview schedule An outline of questions/ a script is a good idea Main questions Follow-up questions Probes Open-ended or closed questions?

18 Interview schedule: an example Ideas about child-rearing How would you described a good child as opposed to a bad child? How do you think they become good or bad children? When your children grow up, what kind of qualities would you like to see in him or her? Do you see yourself as a good and competent mother? Do you think people hold mothers responsible for how their children turn out? (From The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood, Hays, 1996, Yale University Press)

19 Setting up an interview Either pre-arrange it or seize the moment and interview someone on the spot A letter/a phone-call/face-to-face Explain what an interview implies, questions, what happens to data, interviewees rights

20 Time How many interviews overall? How many interviews in one day? Interviewing is exhausting physically and emotionally Intense listening requires prolonged concentration No more than 3 a day Between 45 mins and 2 hrs each

21 Place If possible let your interviewee choose the setting Whose territory? Physical space as important as symbolic positioning of the interview in the lives of your participants Food, drink

22 Conduct during an interview How to begin? How to ask questions? Pussyfooting around the informants – avoiding confrontation Probing – What do you mean by that? Devil s advocate – seeking out confrontation Leading questions – suggesting an answer

23 Examples Do you think the media affects the way you feel about your body? WRONG! Are men more religious than women? WRONG! How are female bodies portrayed in the media? BETTER How do men/women practise religion? BETTER

24 Truth and validity Interviewees wish to tell it like it is Problematic Many interviewees believe in objectivity doing poststructuralism with your informants, i.e. deconstructing the dominant discourses with them f.ex. What do you think about the way eating disorders are perceived by the majority of people? Do you agree/disagree with these perceptions/opinions ?

25 Recording interviews 1. Notes 2. Tape/digital recorder 3. Video-recording Most people agree but some may not and they usually have a good reason.

26 Transcription and Translation: a Linguistic and Ethnographic Task Transcription – do it ASAP A laborious process Ethnographic translation – interpreting, constructing, converting observations into words Linguistic translation – collecting and presenting data in more than one language

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