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Interviews

Flewitt, Rosie (2013) Interviews. In: Understanding research with children and young people. Sage Publications, pp. 136-153. ISBN 9781446274934

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Abstract

Interviews, in one form or another, have long been used by researchers interested in understanding particular issues in their own society or the history, character and context of other cultures and other societies. For instance, they were used in nineteenth-century studies of poverty in English industrial cities, and were also often used by Western anthropologists as they sought to understand the social organisation and characteristics of ‘primitive’ or non-Western cultures. Throughout the twentieth century, researchers developed the use of interviews to investigate many different social issues, including in the fields of education, care and health. In the second half of the twentieth century, as research methods across the social sciences began to move away from the dominance of ‘measuring’ social phenomena using quantitative methods, so the use of interviews moved towards more informal approaches in qualitative research to investigate participant experiences, perceptions, identities and beliefs. Social science researchers who are seeking to understand the lives and perceptions of others often opt to use interviews as at least one of their chosen methods for investigation. Yet the interview is not a simple ‘tool’ that can be selected unproblematically from a methodological ‘toolkit’. It involves a relationship between two or more people, and however brief that relationship may be, its nature and quality will deeply influence what can be found out through the interview process. In this chapter, I encourage readers to reflect critically upon how interviews are always social events, where an interviewer and interviewee(s) meet to exchange information face-to-face, by telephone or in a virtual environment. Although in most interviews, the interviewer usually asks most of the questions and the interviewee responds to them, both participants express their opinions and views through what they say and the ways they say it. I review some of the many different forms that interviews can take, including structured, semi-structured and unstructured, and consider social relationships during the interview process, the different kinds of data that interviews can generate and how these might be interpreted. Although the chapter focuses on interviewing young people and children, thought will also be given to interviewing adults.

Item Type: Book Section
Controlled Keywords: interviews, qualitative research, Social science research, Research Methods; Children; Young People, Participatory Research;, Research methods, Social Sciences(all)
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2014 14:02
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:57
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