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Qualitative Interviewing Methods: Uncovering Social Meaning Through Interviews


Travers, M, Qualitative Interviewing Methods: Uncovering Social Meaning Through Interviews, Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press, M Walters (ed), Docklands, pp. 265-293. ISBN 9780190310103 (2019) [Revised Book Chapter]

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The in-depth interview is one of the most common research methods employed within the social sciences. Interviewing, as a method of social research, was first used in the late nineteenth century by British social policy researchers to understand the problems of the poor. Anthropologists also used interviews during the same period in their studies of non-Western societies. However, the major type of interviewing used by social scientists today-the in-depth interview-was developed in the United States during the 1920s by sociologists at the University of Chicago, who have become known as the Chicago School. Robert Park famously encouraged his students to spend less time in dusty libraries, and instead go out and investigate the world around them. The in-depth interview was used, alongside other methods, as a means to investigate groups or social worlds, and also to obtain life histories.

Qualitative interviewing, especially the in-depth interview, is now used extensively as a key way of exploring social meaning within social science research. The easy availability of portable recording equipment since the 1970s has revolutionised the use of interviewing as a social research method. Rather than taking notes or employing a stenographer to sit behind a curtain so as not to disturb the interview, social researchers can now, easily and cheaply, record the full interview. The resultant increase in the accessibility of interviewing to researchers is one reason some commentators believe we live in an 'interview society' (Silverman 1997).

This chapter details the practical considerations and tasks needed to conduct qualitative social science research interviews. How to analyse and interpret qualitative data, such as those obtained from in-depth interviews, is covered in Chapter 13.

Item Details

Item Type:Revised Book Chapter
Keywords:research methods, qualitative
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociological methodology and research methods
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Travers, M (Associate Professor Max Travers)
ID Code:135480
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2019-10-24
Last Modified:2019-10-31
Downloads:18 View Download Statistics

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