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Interviews: Structured Interviews

  • Structured/ Formal interviews: Based on a structured, pre-coded questionnaire. The interviewer asks closed Qu set in the same order each time, and does not probe beyond the basic answers recieved- A Formal Qu-& answer session

-Advantages: Problems of Literacy are overcome-Validity, Data obtained are seen as more reliable- All respondants will be answering the same questions, Results can be compared with other groups , Research can be replicated to check findings, Useful for obtaining answers about facts- Pratical, Usually involve pre-coded closed questions- Easy to put into quantative statistical form- Positivist implication- Pratical, Less problem with IB- Little involvement unlike UI, Permission given prior- Ethical

-Disadvantages: Interviewer schedule may impose limits on what respondants can say, as interviewer cannot probe beyond the basic questions asked- Limited depth of understanding of what the respondants mean- Validity, Not suitable for exploring highly personal/ sensitive topics- No oppertunity to establish rapport & trust to encourage them to talk about such issues, There are mor time-consuming & costly, interviews have to be paid- Pratical

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Interviews: Unstructured Interviews

  • Unstructured/ Informal- In depth Interviews: Like a guided conversation, few pre-set Qu, open-ended, Interviewer will seek to put the respondants at ease, in a relaxed, informal situation, Interviewer aims to obtain further depth, or detail & draw out respondants feelings, opinions and confidence. SEMI- STRUCTURED

-Approach was used by: Bott and Oakley (1981)- In a study of the experiance of becoming a mother in British society. UI may also be carried out with a group of people, helps trigger off discussions, encourage dialogue to explore issues= Gain in depth qualitative info- Group interviews: R interviews several people at the same time, R controlling direction of interviewer. Focus group: When the Group interview focuses on a particular topic: - What is the difference between a GI & FG? In a GI, the interviewers role is to question, where as in FG the researcher's role is to feed in ideas, draw out their feelings.

-Advantages: Greater flexibility increases the validity- Provides opertunity to build a trust and rapport between the interviewer, Oakley: UI enabled her to establish rapport & develop close relationships of trust & openess with mothers concerned, which enabled them to speak for themselves openly, personally about motherhood, Possibility of probing much deeper than SQ of gaining insights, Ambiguities in Qu can be clarified, Possible of new hypotheses might emerge, Interviewers may be able to access the honestly & validity  -Disadvantages: More time-consuming & costly- Pratical, Fewer interviews- Representativeness, Less reliable-Qu phrases in a variety ways, Diffilcult to replicate- Findings may not be comparable, GI & FG may act as peer pressure- relucatant to reveal personal issues and distort their views, IB- close involvement

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Interviews: General problems of interviews

1. Validity: Data taken by Positivists- Interpretivists: Would argue that an interview is an artificial situation, no gurantee people will give a true account; they may lie, forget or mislead the interviewer, esp GI. Unlikely to give honest answers that involve personal issues. Interviews involve words & phrases may vary between social groups- SI: Little oppertunity to qualify meaning.

2. Interviewer Bias: Refers to answers may be influenced is some way by the presence/ behaviour of the interviewer. Status difference can lead to bias. Interviewers might adapt their answers to impress the interviwer- danger with UI, this interaction situation can affect the quality, validity and reliability of the data. Data obtained can be socioally constucted- Created and influenced by the presence, actions and behaviour obtained of the interviewer and context

- Overcoming interviewer bias: Interviewers are trained to be non-directive- Not to offer opinions ,"Be friendly but not restrained" showing a polite indifference to the answers recieved. Match the social characteristics of the interviewer- Nazroo: Research into the health of Britains ethnic minorities involved translating questionnaires into 6 Asian languages, respondants were interviewed by somome from their own ethinic group. Becker: Suggest a agressive style of interviewing is more likely to squeeze info, involve "playing dumb".

-Concluding remarks on interviews- SI more easily results can be quantfied, BUT: the tighter the structure, the less respondant can develop what they mean. Degree of structure of interviews vary from highly structured to unstructured interviews. This depends on positivist/ interpretivist approach to understanding society

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