qualitative research- Unstructured interviews

  • Created by: Lucy
  • Created on: 30-05-17 22:04

qualitative research- Unstructured interviews


  • Practical: build a rapport/ produce large amounts of data / check if they understood / flexible no pre-set questions / answer freely not in a structure/ can be useful if a researcher doesn't know much about a topic - good starting point.
  • Ethical: if the understand what is going on and give constant
  • Validity: valid data can only be obtained by getting close to people's experiences and meanings/ see the world through their eyes/
  • Theory: interpretivists such as Glaser and Strauss reject the positivists idea that research involves beginning with a fixed hypothesis that we then test by collecting data- for example set of predetermined questions.
  • Data: Primary data, subjective and Qualitative
  • Theory: Feminism argue this method gives women an opportunity to express how they really feel, feminists approach is value committed and requires research involvement and aims for equality and collaboration.


  • Practical: large amount of data= time consuming= costs/ training needs to be more thorough / large amounts of data difficult to group
  • Ethical: can spark emotional harm
  • Reliability: not reliable cannot be standardised measuring instrument/ impossible for another researcher to check meanings etc/ if study can't be checked how can we become confident in it?
  • Representativeness: less likely to produce representative data from which generalisations can be made and causal laws discovered/ take longer- smaller sample sizes
  • Validity: positivists argue that building a rapport there is a danger of this distorting the information obtained see them as their 'friend' producing socially desirable answers. However not all un interviews build rapport Becker used aggression, disbelief and playing dumb to get answers. They believe rather than giving us a valid picture of social life un inter merely give us a picture as a seen through the eyes of the sociologists.
  • Theory: Positivists reject this see it as unscientific this method lacks objectivity and reliability and fails to produce representative data that can be generalised to the wider population.


Interpretivists favour unstructured interviews as a way of accessing actors' meanings, but they are more costly time consuming and difficult to analyse than structured interviews. Positivists criticise them for their lack of reliability and representativeness. 


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