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this seemingly natural mode of inquiry is a relative newcomer in the world of collecting data about human behavior (Gubrium and Holstein 2002). • From a historical standpoint. however. • The prevalence of interviews as a mode of communication in all realms of social life has led some social scientists to conclude that we live in an ‘interview society’ (Atkinson and Silverman 1997). .• The interview mode of gathering information is so familiar and so widely applied that it typically goes unrecognized.

Democratization of opinions  the interview format assumes that human beings share a common experience. which any random member of society can articulate when asked to do so  social scientists use random respondents for their research because they assume every person’s opinion of the world is valid and that the sum of these views paints a reasonably complete picture of social reality  collecting a large representative sample would be wasteful .THE BASIC ASUMPTIONS OF TRADITIONAL INTERVIEWS 1.

2. he or she asks questions and in doing so decides the topic. and the relevance of what will be discussed  The interviewee’s primary responsibility is to provide coherent. presumably truthful answers . the pace. Researcher-respondent duality  Is the division between the two formalized roles of the researcher and the respondent. (a leaderfollower relationship)  The interviewer is the leader.

Respondents as vessels of knowledge  The respondent is viewed as a ‘vessel of answers’ (Gubrium and Holstein 2002) or a fountain of knowledge. .3.  The subjects’ involvement in the interview is limited to only answering questions and that researcher’s primary job is to extract answers. that could be turned on or off by the right questions.

preestablished response categories and strict control of the interview protocol using a script.STRUCTURED INTERVIEW The most prevalent interviewing technique  Named after its emphasis on rigid procedures  Adheres to the researcher-respondent duality   Fontana and Frey (2000: 649) The fundamentals of structured interviewing include: asking the same question with no variation. .

the interviewer should have no influence on what respondents say.Within this framework.  The goal is to ensure all respondents receive the same treatment so that variations in their answers can be attributed to differences in attitudes about the topic.  . the person asking the questions tries not to ‘contaminate’ the respondents’ answers by getting involved in personal details or offering opinions. and not to differences in the way they were treated by the researcher.  Aside from asking questions.

(2002: 241–247) .’ or ‘Don’t you disagree…’. avoid questions that begin with ‘Don’t you agree.CONSTRUCTING SURVEY INTERVIEW Babbie (2002) offers the following guidelines for constructing survey interview questions:  Short items are best  Always pretest a questionnaire  Avoid negatively stated questions. they can be confusing  Avoid biased questions. in other words.

LIMITATION OF SURVEY-STYLE INTERVIEWS Structured interviewers would either have to speculate or simply leave some questions unanswered in explaining the intended meaning of the findings from the respondent’s viewpoint  The emphasis on pre-coded data collection schemes sometimes comes at the cost of neglecting the depth and complexity of the research participants’ experiences.  .