October 24, 2013
Political Science 3N06
Political Science 3N06 2012 Lecture 7a Interviewing
- There are a number of different types of interviews
- Different types are useful for different purposes
1. STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS (P OSITIVIST KIND OF QUESTIONS )
- Think of them as being like closed-ended surveys
o Where the survey is delivered by the researcher rather than through the mail
- Given that they are like surveys, the same concerns regarding question wording and question
order must be addressed
- Useful for gathering standardized data that can be used for quantitative analysis
- When want to be able to generalize when not trying to get inside the heads of the respondents,
but an outside view of the way they think and they act.
- Read the questions in a specific order
- And anyone that you administer the questions to received them in that exact order. Rigid.
- Find out something objective about a sample to say something objective about a larger
- Should explain the purpose of the study the same way;
- SAME FROM START TO FINISH.
1. The purpose of the study should be explained in the same way, as written, by all interviewers
2. Interviews should follow the question script as written – both question wording and question
o In a controlled fashion!
- In effect, this means that both the interviewer and the interviewee are rigidly controlled
3. Only the respondent should provide answers to survey questions (directly or indirectly)
- This means that the interviewer must keep her personal opinions to herself
- She must appear apolitical and non-judgemental
- Verbal or non-verbal opinion must be avoided; “What do you think about it?” – Must avoid at
any point to taint the interviewer; no emotional expression on the face.
- Have to be wary of interviewer effects, where the interviewer is responding to YOU rather than
the question asked.
4. Where clarification and elaboration are required, this should be provided through the use of
There may be times when someone might be uncertain of the question being asked.
Interviewer is to play a neutral role; instrument a tool;
- In effect, the interviewer is to be a neutral recording machine
- Any interviewer-effects should be carefully eliminated
- Feminist critique:
- There are hierarchies of power embedded into this type of interview
o Dehumanizes the interviewee;
o Not treated as a human being, but treated as a source;
- It engages in pseudo-conversation – Not interested in; but what can be offered;
o Masculine culture; masculine culture;
- All take and no give
1 October 24, 2013
Political Science 3N06
- “A masculine paradigm (Oakley, 1981), embedded in a masculine culture and stressing
masculine traits while at the same time excluding from interviewing traits such as sensitivity,
emotionality, and others that are culturally viewed as feminine. (Denzin)”
- This is a problem ethically
- Social context that is hierarchical; expert interviewer who is in complete control and the person
who is under the gaze; people respond to social structures with attitudes and behaviors that are
appropriate in social structures;
- It is also a problem methodologically
- Providing very partial answers – answers that meet the pre-conceived needs of the interviewer,
but that do not, perhaps, reflect the lived world of the interviewee
- The alternative?
- “We need to hear what women implied, suggested and started to say but didn’t. We need to
interpret their pauses and, when it happens, their unwillingness or inability to respond. We need
to consider carefully whether our interviews create a context in which women feel comfortable
exploring the subjective feelings that give meaning to actions, things, and events, whether they
allow women to explore unwomanly feelings and behaviours, and whether they encourage
women to explain what they mean in their own terms (Anderson and Jack – Learning to Listen)”
o The structured interview establishes a context where we want them to explain the
meaning in the terms of the interviewer context; in a less structured way;
- What’s true of women is also true in the case of other marginalized groups
- Do structured interviews allow them to speak?
2. Unstructured interviews (do not know what going to find, unless going to find it)
- Used more frequently by qualitative and interpretivist researchers
- Note: Not all unstructured interviews are interpretivist
o But this type of interview aligns better with the interpretivist epistemological pole
- Unstructured interviews are not based upon a rigid questionnaire
- They are based on the assumption that many relevant questions will emerge during the process
of interacting with interviewees – the questions cannot be rigidly predetermined at the office
- The limitations of this approach
- Lacking standardized questions, it is difficult to generalize your findings
- Every interview might be quite different, will talk about topics in different order;
o Is everyone hearing the same words or sentences?
o Can aggregate all of these questions together to generalize?
- Since each interview will likely involve different questions being asked in a different order and
at different times
o How do you aggregate the interview data across interview subjects?
- The problem of interviewer effects (reactivity) still exists
o Structured have their own effects;
o There are s