ECPR Winter School
University of Bamberg, Bamberg
2 - 9 March 2018




WC101 - Qualitative Interviewing

Instructor Details

Instructor Photo

Lea Sgier

Institution:
Central European University

Instructor Bio

I am an assistant professor in political science at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. I have widely lectured in qualitative methodology in other contexts (Essex Summer School, Concordia University Montreal, University of Geneva, Graduate Institute Geneva, etc.). My main research interests are in gender and politics (gender quotas, women in politics, citizenship), interpretive methodologies (discourse analysis, qualitative interviewing) and dementia and old age policy.


Course Dates and Times

Monday 5 to Friday 9 March 2018
25 hours over 5 days
09:30-12:30 and 14:00-16:00

Prerequisite Knowledge

This is an intermediate-level course for participants who have some familiarity with qualitative research in general and ideally (but not necessarily) some experience with qualitative interviewing. Prospective participants in this course should: 

  • have some understanding of qualitative research in general (for example by having attended a Master's level methodology course covering some aspects of qualitative research, having done some preparatory readings or having had some previous experience with qualitative research)
  • have a basic knowledge of and ideally (but not necessarily) some practical experience with some form of qualitative interviewing
  • have a solid oral and written command of English (be able to grasp nuances, articulate fine-tuned questions etc.)

Participants with little prior knowledge of qualitative interviewing are advised to familiarise themselves with the topic by some introductory reading, such as for example: Arksey, Hilary and Knight, Peter (1999). Interviewing for Social Scientists. London: Sage. Kvale, Steinar (2008). Doing Interviews. London: Sage. (or similar introductory books on interviewing).

Short Outline

THIS OUTLINE FROM 2017 - AN UP TO DATE OUTLINE WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON

In-depth interviewing is a widely used method for data collection in the social and human sciences. This course is meant to a) refresh and deepen the participant's general understanding of in-depth interviewing, by discussing its theoretical and epistemological underpinnings (symbolic interactionism and communication theory in particular) and situating it within a reflection on power relations in the field; b) systematically go through the research process specific to interviewing, including testing specific interviewing techniques appropriate for dealing with uncooperative or otherwise "difficult" respondents, and/or for asking sensitive questions; c) introduce the participants to the logic of interpretive interviewing intended to yield data rich and deep enough to grasp constructions of meaning, discourses and narratives. This kind of interview is of interest to researchers who aim to understand how people make sense of their life and the world surrounding them, how they position themselves as individuals and social actors, and how they participate in wider social and political processes and discourses. Interpretive interviewing can be used as a method on its own (for research projects that, as whole, focus on the identification of discourses), or as a complement to more conventional types of interviewing (to become more sensitive to ambiguities, silences or contradictions in interviews that may hint towards layers of understanding that might escape our attention otherwise).

Long Course Outline

In-depth interviewing is a widely used method for data collection in the social and human sciences. It is the method of choice for research projects that aim to explore people's experiences, motives, opinions and perspectives in their depth and richness and without constraining the respondents' answers by a priori categories or pre-set reply options. In political science in particular, it is often also used for the purpose of reconstructing processes.

Although generally structured by a topic guide, in-depth interviews allow for flexibility and openness throughout the interview interaction and are based on open and non-leading questions that are designed to get the interviewee to talk freely and at length, and to explore the width and depth of his or her views and experiences (see for example Ritchie et al. 2013, Kvale/Brinkman 2008 or Hermanowicz 2002).

Although widely used, in-depth interviewing as a method is also often under-reflected, and consequently used too "naively" and with an insufficient understanding of its limitations, specificities and difficulties. This course offers an intermediate-level introduction to this method for participants who already have some knowledge of and, ideally, some experience with doing interviews, and who wish to deepen and sharpen their understanding of the method.

The course will:

  1. refresh and deepen the participant's general understanding of in-depth interviewing, by reviewing its basic principles and steps, discussing its theoretical and epistemological underpinnings (symbolic interactionism and communication theory in particular) and situating it within a reflection on power relations in the field. In this context, we will namely reflect on key differences between interviews with different types of respondents (elites, experts, "ordinary" people, vulnerable groups, etc.) and different interviewee/interviewer constellations (issues of gender, age, social class, race, etc.). We will also strive to understand the interview as "journey" which, to be completed successfully, needs a particular type of cooperation between interviewer and interviewee.
  2. review and put into practice the research process specific to in-depth interviewing (conceptualisation in the spirit of 'sensitising questions', topic guide construction, selection of interviewees, etc.), including the discussion and testing of specific interviewing techniques appropriate for dealing with sensitive questions and/or with "difficult" respondents. In this context, and depending on the participants' interests, we might also discuss specific issues such as on-line interviewing, interviewing with the help of a translator, etc.
  3. introduce the participants to the logic of interpretive interviewing intended to yield data rich and deep enough to grasp constructions of meaning, discourses and narratives (that typically manifest themselves in the form of more or less implicit categorisations, demarcations, framings, particular types of wording, etc.). This kind of interviews is of interest to researchers who aim to understand how people make sense of their life and the world surrounding them, how they position themselves as individuals and social actors, and how they participate in wider social and political discourses that both constrain and enable them as social actors. Interpretive interviewing can be used as a method on its own (for research projects that, as whole, focus on the identification of discourses etc.), or as a complement to more conventional types of interviewing (to become more sensitive to ambiguities, silences or contradictions in interviews that may hint towards layers of understanding that might escape our attention otherwise).

To give a simple example: PhD students speaking of what it is to them to be PhD students often draw on implicit understandings of "work" to situate their research (as constituting or not constituting "proper" work) - and themselves - in a moral and social space (as "good" or "bad" students); similarly, policy-makers, when speaking of their views of the role of social policy, typically deploy latent understandings of what a "proper" citizen and a "deserving" welfare state beneficiary is in their understanding.

While the general principles of in-depth interviewing are helpful in making this kind of often implicit categorisations emerge, they are often insufficient: the 'interpretive interviewer' needs to develop an even sharper sense for how to tap into systems of meaning (without ever pushing the interviewee in a particular direction) and for detecting clues signalling the presence of more implicit or latent layers of meaning underneath the respondents' explicit statements. This course aims to develop the participants' capacity to "hear" such clues, and to design and carry out interviews that are able to tap into more latent layers of discourse too.

We will start with a review of the general principles and feature of in-depth interviewing (and from the participants' own experience with it) and locate it within a deeper theoretical and epistemological understanding. In addition, some "warm-up exercises" will be used to sensitise the participants to various ways of "hearing" interview data, including more interpretive ways (day 1). We will then go through the research process typical of an interview research, starting from conceptualisation in the spirit of 'sensitising' concepts and the elaboration of an interview topic guide (days 2-3). After some testing and refining of the topic guide, and a review and deepening of interviewing techniques (days 3-4), the participants will then carry out a full interview, critically re-listen to it and transcribe selected passages (day 4) that we will use for a discussion of data analysis from various angles, including interpretive analysis.

Throughout the week, we will discuss key issues of in-depth interviewing, such as the importance of non-directivity and of not imposing pre-set categorisation upon the respondents, ways of exploring the width and depth of the respondents' views while nevertheless staying on track and the crucial importance of probing into the "right" issues. There will also be room to discuss the participants' own interviews (or planned interview research), both during class hours and outside, and to raise various ethical issues specific to in-depth interviewing.

The participants in this course should please bring with them a digital recording device with download function (such as: digital recorder, mp3, iPhone or iPad etc.). If they intend to work on their own laptop, they can also usefully install a transcription assistance software (such as ExpressScribe, F4/F5, or similar).

They should be prepared to put in some hours of daily work for readings and practical exercises (interviewing, transcribing etc.), in addition to the daily class meetings. Daily assignments will be given at the end of each class meeting, for the next day.

Day-to-Day Schedule

Day 
Topic 
Details 
1Introduction to in-depth interviewing

Introductory lecture:

  • Review of the basic principles of in-depth interviewing
  • Theoretical models underlying in-depth interviewing
  • Epistemological issues underlying in-depth interviewing
  • Working with sensitising concepts

Exercises: "Warm-up" exercises in interview analysis and "diagnosing"

Assignment: prepare an exercise in conceptualisation

2The research process in interview research: research questions/puzzles, conceptualisation, selection of respondents, topic guide

Lecture:

  • Research questions that cannot be tackled with interviews
  • The role of theory and concepts in interview research
  • The selection and recruitment of respondents

Constructing topic guides: conceptual and communicative logics; the specificities of interpretive interviewing

Exercise:  Elaboration of a topic guide Assignment: elaborate a topic guide

3Topic guides (continued) and interview techniques

Lecture:

  • A review of key interviewing techniques
  • Specific interviewing techniques of interpretive interviewing
  • Probing for width and depth

Exercises:

  • Assessing and revising topic guides
  • Interview exercises Assignment: revise topic guide and recruit an respondent for day 4.
4Interviewing techniques (continued)

Lecture:

  • Sensitive questions and "difficult" respondents
  • "Hearing data": listening for content and discourse for constructions of meaning

Exercise:

  • Interviewing exercises (continued)
  • Revising topic guides (continued)

Assignment: do a full interview, listen through it carefully and transcribe selected parts.

5Data analysis ; Interview "diagnosing"

Brainstorming on the interview experience

Lecture

  • A brief introduction to data analysis
  • Interviewing and "the truth" (incl. issues of respondent validation and contradictory statements) – quality criteria in interview research
  • Writing up interview research

Exercise: "Diagnosing" interviews Final questions and discussion

0 The day-to-day schedule is provisional and will be adjusted depending on the on the progress of the group. Overall about half of the available class time will be devoted to practical work and the other half to (interactive) lectures, but not always necessarily in the same order.
Day-to-Day Reading List

Day 
Readings 
1Strongly recommended Yeo, Alice et al. (2013). "In-Depth Interviews", in Ritchie, Jane, Lewis, Jane, McNaughton Nicholls, Carol and Ormston, Rachel (eds) (2013). Qualitative Research Practice. A Guide for Social Scienists and Researchers. London: Sage Foddy, William (1993). Construction Questions for Interviews and Questionnaires. Theory and Practice in Social Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ch. 1-2. Goffman, Erving (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, ch. 3 and 6. Kvale, Steinar and Brinkmann, Svend (2014). InterViews : Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage, 3rd edition, ch. 3. Additional readings Berg, Bruce L. (2009). Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Needham Heights, Mass. : Allyn&Bacon. (chapter 4). Garfinkel, Harold (1967). Studies in Ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Prentice Hall, ch. 3. Holstein, James A. and Gubrium, Jaber F. (1995). The Active Interview. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Nikander, Pirio (2012). "Interviews as Discourse Data", in Jaber, Gubrium F. et al. (eds). Handbook of Interview Research. The Complexity of the Craft. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2nd edition. Weiss, Robert (1994). Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualtiative Interivew Studies. New York: Free Press (ch. 1). Mosley, Layna (2013). " 'Just Talk to People'? Interviews in Contemporary Political Science", in Mosley, Layna (ed.), Interview Research in Political Science. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, pp. 1-28.
2Strongly recommended Keats, Daphne M. (2000). Interviewing. A Practical Guide for Students and Professionals. Buckingham: Open University Press, pp. 34-57. Arthur, Sue et al. (2013). “Designing Fieldwork Strategies and Materials”, in Ritchie, Jane et al. (éds), Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage, pp. 147-176. Rubin, Herbert J. and Rubin, Irene (2012). Qualitative Interviewing : The Art of Hearing Data. Thousand Oaks etc. : Sage, ch. 7-9. Bowen, Glenn A. 2006. "Grounded Theory and Sensitizing Concepts." International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5(3), article 2. (Retrieved 5 from : http://www.ualberta.ca/~ijqm/backissues/5_3/pdf/bowen.pdf). Luborsky, Mark R. and Rubinstein, Robert L. (1995). "Sampling in Qualitative Research: Rationale, Issues, and Methods". Research on Aging 17:89-113 Additional readings Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2002). "Analysis of Personal Narratives", in Gubrium, Jaber F. and Holstein, James A., (eds) The Handbook of Interview Research (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 695-710.
3Strongly recommended Rubin, Herbert J. and Rubin, Irene (2012). Qualitative Interviewing : The Art of Hearing Data. Thousand Oaks etc. : Sage, ch. 7-9 (same as for day 2). Hermanowicz, Joseph C. (2002). "The Great Interview: 25 Strategies for Studying People in Bed", Qualitative Sociology 25(4): 479-499. Lilleker, Darren (2003). "Interviewing the Political Elite: Navigating a Political Minefield", Politics 23(3): 207-14. Additional readings Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Weiss, Robert (1994). Learning From Strangers. The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. New York: The Free Press, pp. 61-83. Van den Hoonaard, Deborah Destin (2005). “’Am I Doing It Right?’: Older Widows as Interview Participants in Qualitative Research”. Journal of Aging Studies 19 (2005): 393-406. Russell, Cherry (1999). “Interviewing Vulnerable Old People: Ethical and Methodological Implications of Imagining Our Subjects”. Journal of Aging Studies 13(4): 403-417.
4Strongly recommended Adler, Patricia A. and Adler, Peter (2002). "The Reluctant Respondent", in Gubrium, Jaber F. and Holstein, James A., (eds) The Handbook of Interview Research (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 515-535. Foddy, William (1993). Constructing Questions for Interviews and. Questionnaires. Theory and Practice in Social Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ch. 4. Gill, Rosalind (2000). “Discourse Analysis”, in Bauer, M. and Gaskell, G., Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound. London: Sage, pp. 172-190. Ostrander, Susan A. (1993). “’Surely You’re Not in This Just To Be Helpful’ : Access, Rapport, and Interviews in Three Studies of Elites.” in R. Hertz et J.B. Imber (eds), Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 22: 7-27. Additional readings Hammersley, Martyn (with Roger Gomm) (2008). "Assessing the Radical Critique of Interviews", in Hammersley, Martyn, Questioning Qualitative Inquiry. London: Sage, pp. 89-100.
5Strongly recommended Kvale, Steinar and Brinkmann, Svend (2014). InterViews : Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage, 3rd edition, ch. 10. Borland, Katherine (2004). “ ‘That is Not What I Said’. Interpretive Conflict in Oral Narrative Research”, in Hesse-Biber, S.N. et Leavy, P. (eds), Approaches to Qualitative Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 522-534. McCormack, Coralie (2002). "From Interview Transcript to Interpretive Story: Part 1— Viewing the Transcript through Multiple Lenses". Field Methods, Vol. 12, No. 4, November 2000 282–297. Yanow, Dvora (2006). "Neither Rigorous nor Objective? Interrogating Criteria for Knowledge Claims in Interpretive Science", in Yanow, Dvora and Schwartz-Sea, Peregrine (eds) (2006). Interpretation and Method. Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn. Armonk NY: M.E. Sharpe. Rubin, Herbert J. and Rubin, Irene (2012). Qualitative Interviewing : The Art of Hearing Data. Thousand Oaks etc. : Sage, ch. 10. Triandafyllidou, Anna (2008). "Popular perceptions of the EU and the Nation: the case of Italy". Nations and Nationalism 14(2): 261-282. Additional readings Rosenblatt, Paul C. (2002). "Interviewing at the Border of Fact and Fiction", in Gubrium, Jaber F. and Holstein, James A., (eds) The Handbook of Interview Research (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 893-910. Schwartz-Sea, Peregrine, and Yanow, Dvora (2012). Interpretive Research Design. New York: Routledge, ch. 1-2. Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. London: Sage, chap. 3. Kvale, Steinar and Brinkmann, Svend (2014). InterViews : Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage, 3rd edition, ch. 12, 14. Coffey, Amanda and Atkinson, Paul (1996). Making Sense of Qualitative Data. London: Sage.
Additional Readings Rosenblatt, Paul C. (2002). "Interviewing at the Border of Fact and Fiction", in Gubrium, Jaber F. and Holstein, James A., (eds) The Handbook of Interview Research (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 893-910. Schwartz-Sea, Peregrine, and Yanow, Dvora (2012). Interpretive Research Design. New York: Routledge, ch. 1-2. Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. London: Sage, chap. 3. Kvale, Steinar and Brinkmann, Svend (2014). InterViews : Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage, 3rd edition, ch. 12, 14. Coffey, Amanda and Atkinson, Paul (1996). Making Sense of Qualitative Data. London: Sage.
Software Requirements

For this workshop we need a transcription software such as Express Scribe (full version), for PC and Mac. http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/de/, or F4/F5.

Hardware Requirements

The participants need a digital recording device that allows for data downloading (digital recorder, iPhone, mp3, etc.). Participants who bring their own laptop might want to install a transcription software such as ExpressScribe or F4/F5.

Literature


Further literature.

Foddy, William (1994). Constructing Questions for Interviews and Questionnaires: Theory and Practice in Social Reseach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gillham, Bill (2005). Research Interviewing. The Range of Techniques. Maidenhead: Open University Press/MacGraw-Hill.

Holstein, James A. and Gubrium, Jaber F. (1995). The Active Interview. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Keats, Daphne M. (2000). Interviewing. A Practical Guide for Students and Professionals. Buckingham: Open Unviersity Press.

Kvale, Steinar and Brinkmann, Svend (2014). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage, 3rd edition.

Lapadat, Judith & Lindsay, Anne (1999). "Transcription in research and practice: From standardization of technique to interpretive positionings". Qualitative Inquiry, 5, pp, 64-73.

Liamputtong, Pranee (2007). Researching the Vulnerable. London: Sage.

Mosley, Layna (ed.), Interview Research in Political Science. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press.

Renzetti, Claire M. and Lee, Raymond, M. (éds.) (1993). Researching Sensitive Topics. Newbury Park etc.: Sage.

Ritchie, Jane, Lewis, Jane, McNaughton Nicholls, Carol and Ormston, Rachel (eds) (2013). Qualitative Research Practice. A Guide for Social Scienists and Researchers. London: Sage.

Rubin, Herbert J. and Rubin, Irene (2012). Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data. Thousand Oaks etc.: Sage.

Silverman, David (1993). Interpreting Qualitative Data. Methods for Analyzing Talk, Text and Interaction. London: Sage.

Weiss, Robert (1994). Learning From Strangers. The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. New York: The Free Press.

Yanow, Dvora and Schwartz-Shea, Peregrina (eds) (2006). Interpretation and Method. Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn. Armonk and London: M.E. Sharpe.

Reference Books.

Bevir, Mark (ed.) (2010). Interpretive Political Science. 4 vol. Los Angeles: Sage.

Gubrium, Jaber F. and Holstein, James A. (eds) (2001). Handbook of Interview Research. Context and Method. London: Sage, 1st edition.

Gubrium, Jaber F., Holstein, James A., Marvasti, Amir B. and McKinney, Karyn D (eds) (2012). Handbook of Interview Research. The Complexity of the Craft. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2nd edition.

Fielding, Nigel G. (ed.) (2002). Interviewing. London: Sage, 4 vol.

Fielding, Nigel (ed.) (2008). Interviewing II, 4 vol. London: Sage.

The following other ECPR Methods School courses could be useful in combination with this one in a ‘training track .
Recommended Courses Before
  • Summer School: Qualitative Data Analysis
Recommended Courses After

Summer School:

  • Expert Interviews

Winter School:

  • Focus Groups
  • Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Writing Ethnographic and Other Qualitative-Interpretive Research: Learning Inductively Introduction to Qualitative Interpretive Methods

Additional Information

Disclaimer

The information contained in this course description form may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, specific participant demands, group size etc.). Registered participants will be informed in due time in case of adaptations.

Note from the Academic Convenors

By registering to this course, you certify that you possess the prerequisite knowledge that is requested to be able to follow this course. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If you are not sure if you possess this knowledge to a sufficient level, we suggest you contact the instructor before you proceed with your registration.


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