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A fluid approach to interviewing

18 Feb

Gubrium and Holstein don’t necessarily either advocate a fluid interview or a structured interview in Postmodern Interviewing. However, one quote caught my eye. The authors quote Studs Terkel with the following, “There were questions, of course. But they were casual in nature … the kind you would ask while having a drink with someone … it was a conversation. In time the sluice gates of dammed up hurts and dreams were open.” (69) Clearly, for a scientific study some protocols and rigidity must be adhered to because specific questions must be answered – you can’t allow an interview to become a conversation like the one Terkel describes. But is such rigidity necessary in most of the research studies this class plans to conduct? No.

Part of my research plan is to interview the Historical Society personnel. Specifically, I plan to find out how to research my family tree. Still, with that goal in mind, I believe the interview needs to be a fluid one. I will begin by asking some specific questions about the flyer I found in the community center library about finding your roots. Then I would ask them what resources they have available. When I move on to ask them about their own experiences, I hope that the interview will take on that fluid nature where the interviewees begin to share more information than they are being asked to provide.

When an interview is allowed to be fluid, more information than you seek can be shared. People tend to open up and tell you things you may not have originally thought of – things that later turn out to be important. In that additional information interviewees provide, some gems may turn up that could enhance the process and enhance your study. Following a fluid interview process, you could learn more than you might if you were rigid with your interview process.

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1 Comment

Posted by on February 18, 2010 in Reading response

 

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One response to “A fluid approach to interviewing

  1. krystlewright

    February 19, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Good point about the usefulness of a fluid interview. If an interview is too structured, and the interviewer only learns about the questions they have planned in advanced, how much is she/he really learning at all? On the other hand, there is so much that the interviewer, having no real experience in this field themselves, would not even think to ask. Those answers are really what makes for an interesting article. Good luck with your interviews with the Historical Society.

     

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