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Structured Interviews Unstructured Interviews
ractical Issues Can cover a large number of people because they are quick and cheap to administer.
Good for gathering simple factual information such as someone's age, job, religion etc.
Informality allows the interviewer to develop a rapport (relationship of trust and understanding)
o Puts the interviewee at ease.
Time And Money
Skills and Results are easily quantified because they are closed ended question with precoded o Helps them to open up.
characteristics of the answers. o Empathy can help interviewees to discuss difficult subjects.
researcher Training interviewers is easy and cheap as all they have to do is follow a set of instructions. Qualitative data
Subject Matter Response rates are normally higher than for questionnaires because people find it harder to Questions are able to be checked that they are fully understood.
Research Opportunity say no to someone face to face.
Access Flexible Interviewer not restricted with set questions.
They are inflexible because the schedule is drawn up before hand and the interviewer must Cost Training needs to be thorough. Need to have a background in sociology so they can recognize and
stick to it! This makes it impossible to pursue any interesting leads that may emerge probe when there is a sociological point made.
during the interview.
Because the schedule is done in advance researchers must have some knowledge of the
subject and a clear hypothesis to test, which makes them unsuitable for investigating
o Take a long time (several hours each).
unfamiliar topics where the researcher has little idea what the key issues are. o Limited number can be interviewed.
They are only snapshots taken at one moment in time so they fail to capture the dynamic o Relatively small sample.
nature of social life. o Qualitative data takes time to decrypt as it cannot be precoded.
Social desirability bias.
Relying on memory.
E thical Issues
Relatively few ethical issues
Because the interview is a social interaction the interviewee may feel under pressure to
Informed Consent o Sensitive issues may be picked up on.
When talking about sensitive issues care needs to be taken to avoid psychological harm. Informed consent needs to be gained.
Researchers should gain interviewees informed consent and make it clear they have a right The interviewee needs to know that they have the right not to answer any questions they aren't comfortable
not to answer any questions that they do not wish to. with.
You must guarantee anonymity and confidentiality.
Special considerations when interviewing vulnerable people such as children, disabled and
the elderly. Special care must be used not to pressure them and they should be kept brief.
Parental consent may also be required.
Positivists like it!
Hypothesis testing They can establish correlations between variables by analyzing
interviewee's answers. This allows us to make generalizations about behavior patterns.
Once a correlation has been established we can construct a hypothesis about its possible
Interpretivists like it
o Validity true to real life as the people are able to give thoughts and feelings.
o Prefer qualitative data in words and is very indepth compared to other methods (e.g.
cause. questionnaires etc.).
Reliability They are seen as a fixed yard stick they are reliable because they are easy to o Subjective.
standardize and control. Interviewers can be trained to conduct each interview in precisely
the same way with the same questions, wording, tone of voice etc. Easy for others to
Representativeness Positivists are critical
replicate since they don't depend on the interviewers personal characteristics. You can
also compare the answers easily as it's the exact same questions. Believe it is an unscientific research method
Representativeness quick and easy to conduct so large numbers can be surveyed. This increases Lacks objectivity and reliability
the chances of obtaining a representative sample. Relatively high response Believe it has less representativeness than questionnaires because the group studied is usually very small
and the `sample' is often selected haphazardly (through a chance encounter with someone who turns out to
Interpretivists are critical be a key informative)
Interpretivism they want to uncover the meanings that actors use to construct social Unlike structured methods it is not a standardized, scientific measuring instrument
reality. You need a method in high validity, one that gives a true picture of the subject Success of research relies solely on the researchers skills and characteristics
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This in their view can only be achieved through the use of qualitative As it produces qualitative data it is difficult to compare to other studies so therefore unlikely to produce
methods. Structured interviews are quantitative and tend to produce a false picture. reliable data
Feminism Many reject survey methods such as structured interviews. They argue that the
relationship between researcher and researched reflects the exploitative nature of gender
relationships in patriarchal society.…read more