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Chapter 12

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Sociology 2206A/B
Neil Holt

qualitative interview involves asking questions, listening, expressing interest, and recording what was said; joint production of a researcher and an interviewee it is often used in field research in addition to other data-collection techniques (however, a method that is separate from field research) generally, involves one or more people being present and is informal and nondirective (i.e. the respondent may take the interview in various directions) involves a mutual sharing of experiences study participants express themselves in the forms in which they normally speak, think, and organize reality the focus is on the members’ perspectives and experiences can occur in a series over time Similarities and Differences between Qualitative Interviews and Friendly Conversations Friendly Conversation: Greeting Absence of an explicit goal or purpose avoidance of repetition question asking expressions of interest expressions of ignorance turn taking, so the encounter is balanced abbreviations pause or brief silence when neither person talks is acceptable a closing both involve asking questions qualitative interviews have an explicit purpose - to learn about the informant and setting qualitative interview is less balanced - higher proportion of questions come from the researcher also includes repetition The Procedure of Qualitative Interviewing researcher should have a clearly defined research question before interviewing participants for his/her study rarely have hypotheses - inductive approach to theorizing; build a theory from the evidence that emerges from the interviews Sampling: social scientists typically select interview participants through nonprobability sampling with this data-collection technique, snowball and purposive sampling are often used for recruiting potential interviewees because the topics that researchers are interested in studying through the use of qualitative interviewing do not easily lend themselves to probability sampling not all research that uses qualitative interviewing as a form of data collection uses nonprobability sampling - but vast majority does hidden population: people who belong to subcultures whose members are difficult to locate and therefore difficult to study many researchers interested in studying hidden populations rely on qualitative interviewing as a data-collection technique researchers interested in studying hidden populations often rely on nonprobability sampling techniques, particularly snowball sampling qualitative interviewing = inductive, a.k.a theory is derived from the data; process of theoretical sampling goes hand in hand with the grounded theory approach; theoretical sampling means that a researcher does not know in advance how many individuals he or she needs to interview researcher continues to interview subjects until the same general themes continue to emerge from the data and no new findings are being revealed - theoretical saturation in reality, number of people interviewed is usually dictated by the time and resources available to the researcher because interviews can be time consuming for the interviewee, researcher offers the potential interviewee an incentive for his/her participation; can be a cash payment, entering them into a draw, or being offered a copy of the final research report when it is finished interviews often take place in the member’s home environment so that they are comfortable if a member is preoccupied or there is no privacy, a researcher will move to another setting interviewer’s meaning is shaped by its gestalt, the whole interaction of a researcher and a member in a specific context; includes nonverbal forms of communication that add meaning act of the interview is a social process unto itself that is characterized by several factors, including body language, the relationship between the interview and interviewee, and the context in which the interview takes place transcribing qualitative interviews is a time-consuming process but should be done as soon as possible after the interview has taken place so that the researcher has a better chance of deciphering audio material that may be difficult to understand selective transcription: usually done when the researcher feels it is unnecessary to fully transcribe the interviews in order to answer his/her research question; opts to only transcribe the parts that are most relevant to the research question that is being asked fully transcribed interviews are the best way to ensure that our findings are dependable and trustworthy informant: key actor in qualitative researcher; member with whom a researcher develops a relationship and who tells us about, or informs on, the aspects of the research setting four characteristics: 1. informant is very familiar with the culture and is in a position to witness significant events 2. individual is currently involved in the culture that the researcher is trying to understand 3. person can spend time with the researcher 4. nonanalytic individuals make better informants - familiar with and uses native folk theory or pragmatic common sense - contrasts the analytic member, who preanalyzes the setting, using categories from the media or education Asking Questions in Qualitative Interviews Kvale Question Types: nine different question type that can occur during a qualitative interview: 1. introducing questions: general opening questions where the interviewee is prompted to give his or her account of a situation or experience 2. follow-up questions: those that are asked by the interviewer to get additional description about topics just discussed by the interviewee - can simply be the interviewer repeating words that seem important in the interviewee’s account 3. probing questions: very much like probes used by structured interviewers;
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