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SOCI 211 (34)
Chapter 12

Chapter 12 Qualitative Interviewing

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 211
Yasmin Bayer

Chapter 12 Qualitative Interviewing Overview: This chapter discusses some of the guidelines for qualitative interviewing and focuses on three interview-based methods of research: 1) In-depth interview studies (signify research designs where qualitative interviewing is the primary means of data gathering), 2) Focus group interviews (when a number of people are brought together in a lab type setting to be interviewed together, as a group), and 3) Oral history (in depth interviews that focus on recollections of the past). Introduction What is the difference between qualitative interview and survey interviewing? Unlike survey interviews where standardized questions are asked of each respondent, qualitative interviews allow the researcher to pursue issues and topics in greater depth. Comparatively, qualitative interviews are less structured and gives the subject of the interview more freedom to direct the flow of conversation. Such interviews provide the researcher the opportunity to explore topics, particularly unanticipated issues that may arise in the course of an interview. Qualitative Depth Interviewing: definitions and Guidelines What is qualitative interview? In contrast to a survey interview, a qualitative interview allows the researcher to pursue issues in depth and gives the respondent more freedom to direct the flow of conversation. The researcher typically has a general plan of inquiry but not a standardized set of questions that must be rigidly followed. Steinar Kvale describes the interviewers as a “miner” (the subject possess specific information and that the interviewer’s job is to dig it out) or “traveller” (“interviewer wanders along with the local inhabitant, asks questions that lead the subject to tell their own stories”). How to conduct a good qualitative interview? To conduct a qualitative interview, you need to be able to listen, think, ad talk almost at the same time. Also, you should go into the interview with some general/specific questions you want answered and some topics you want addressed. At times, you’ll have to learn the skills of subtly directing the flow of conversation. Do not try to halt your respondents line of discussion, instead, learn to take what he or she has said and branch that comment back in the direction appropriate to your purposes. Make sure to control a “guided conversation”. Do not try to sound abrupt. Remind yourself you are not having normal conversations. What are the 7 stages Steinar Kavle details in a complete interviewing process? 1) Thematizing: clarifying the purpose of interviews and the concepts to be explored. 2) Designing: laying out the process through which you’ll accomplish your purpose, including a consideration of the ethical dimensions. 3) Interviewing: doing the actual interviews. 4) Transcribing: creating a written text of the interviews. 5) Analyzing: determining the meaning of gathered materials in relation to the purpose of the study. 6) Verifying: checking the reliability and validity of the materials. 7) Reporting: telling others what you’ve learnt. In-depth interview studies Define in-depth interview study. A research design where qualitative interviewing is the primary means of data gathering. For example, Mirna Carranza conducted 32 qualitative in-depth interviews in her study of ways Salvadorian mothers and daughters who settled in Canada attempt to resist racism and prejudice. Compare in-depth interview with ethnographic or participant observation studies. 1) Ethnographic or participant observation studies typically involve a small number of people. However, several times as many could be included in an in-depth interview study for the same or even lesser investment of time. 2) One trade off of interview studies versus field observation is that interviews impose a somewhat artificial setting of questions and answers. Nonetheless, the semi-structured to unstructured form, and the length of time invested in each interview often allows issues and perceptions to emerge that would not emerge in more structures, briefer interviews used for surveys. 3) The in-depth interview however requires a great deal of cooperation from the subjects of study. Focus Groups (exploratory) Define focus groups. An interviewing method where a number of subjects are brought together to discuss a specific topic or issue. A focus group is typically led by a moderator, who helps to facilitate discussion and ensures that no person dominates the conversation, while interfering as littler as possible in the discussion. The type of data that results is typically qualitative in nature. Focus groups are good tool for exploratory research. The deeper meaning behind the answers given on the surveys and insights into potential interpretations of unforeseen relationships revealed in the data analysis may be gained in group interviews. Focus groups are often used to gauge viewers response to movies(testing two dif
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