Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2019

Page updated 25 January, 2019

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2019, Researching the Real World, available at
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A Guide to Methodology

4. In-depth interviews

4.1 Introduction to in-depth interviewing
4.2 Types of in-depth interview
4.3 Methodological approaches to in-depth interviews
4.4 Doing in-depth interviews

4.4.1 Constructing an interview guide
4.4.2 Setting up the interviews
4.4.3 Interviewing Rapport Exploitation The male paradigm Dialogic interviewing Limits of shared experience Power relations Empowering Objectivication of subject cannot be avoided Probing Foreign language complications Remote interviewing Telephone interviewing Asynchronous interviews Follow-up interviews Focus groups

4.4.4 Recording interview data

4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data
4.6 Summary and conclusion

Activity 4.4.3

4.4 Doing in-depth interviews Dialogic interviewing
The development of dialogic interviewing is most fully discussed in feminist literature but is not restricted to that approach. Other researchers have supported the call of feminists for a radical change in interviewing practices. Elliot Mishler (1986), for example, argued for dialogic interviewing rather than, what he terms, the mainstream 'stimulus-response' model and Peter Woods (1986) argued that interviews ought to be democratic, two-way processes.

Dialogic interviews are distinct from casual conversations because they remain formal. Potential informants will be made aware of the research objectives and consulted about participating. Adequate preparations must also be made to ensure the effective recording of data. Yet the approach involves a radical reappraisal of the conventional view of interviews as one-way data-gathering tools.

Proponents of this model argue that far more insight is gained by entering a genuine two-way dialogue. Insights are gained, not only into the subjects' perspectives, but also into those of the interviewer. Ann Oakley (1981) argued that, furthermore, the mutually beneficial exchange incorporates a political process of mutual reflection on the nature of the oppressive structures in which both interviewer and interviewee operate.

This is similar to critical feminist participant observation, for example, Sallie Westwood's (1984) All Day Everyday in which she regarded her role in challenging sexism as legitimate.

So the key to a dialogic interview is to be prepared to provide answers, offer opinions, have a discussion as well as ask questions.

Activity 4.4.3
Carry out a short dialogic interview with a classmate, friend or colleague about his or her childhood (or something related to Activity 4.4.1).
Did the interview take longer than expected? Did you find it strange to answer questions as well as ask them? Did the interview feel any different to a normal conversation?


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