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Qualitative Interviewing

Oxford University Press
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  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Social Sciences


9780199861392.pdf q ua l i tat i v e i n t e rv i ew i n g has today become a key method in the human and social sciences, and also in many other corners of the scientifi c landscape such as education and the health sciences. Some have even argued that interviewing has become the central resource through which the social sciences— and society—engage with the issues that concern us (Rapley, 2001). For as long as we know, human beings have used conver- sation as a central tool to obtain knowledge about others. People talk with others in order to learn about how they experience the world, how they think, act, feel and develop as individuals and in groups, and in recent decades such knowledge-producing conver- sations have been refi ned and discussed as interviews. 1 This chapter gives an overview of the landscape of quali- tative interviewing. But what are interviews? In a classic text, Maccoby and Maccoby defined the interview as “a face-to-face verbal exchange, in which one person, the interviewer, attempts to elicit information or expressions of opinion or belief from introduction to qualitative interviewing 1 1 . Th e fi rst journalistic interviews appeared in the middle of the 19th century (Silvester, 1993), and social science interviews emerged in the course of the 20th century (see the history of interviewing recounted later in this chapter). 2 : QUALITATIVE INTERVIEWING another person or persons.” (Maccoby & Maccoby, 1954, p. 449). This definition can be used as a very general starting point, but we shall soon see that different schools of qualitative interviewing have interpreted, modified, and added to such a generic characterization in many different ways. I begin this chapter by giving an introduction to the broader conversational world of human beings in which interviewing—as one specifi c kind of conversational practice—takes place. I then provide a brief history of qualitative interviewing before introduc- ing a

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