From Moore book (Stephen Frost et al- asking boys questions)
Positivists reject unstructured interviews because their lack of standardised questions and answers means that reliable, quantitative data cannot be generated.
Lack of representativeness- interviews take longer to carry out and this usually limits the size of the research sample. Social desirability – interviewees want to present themselves in a certain way. Truth – some tell lies intentionally. Unsuitable for sensitive issues- anonymity sometimes better Cost- training researchers Relevance- interview may wander into irrelevant areas
Comfort= opening up, helps when researching sensitive issues and therefore increases the chances of getting full and honest responses
In pairs you have to conduct an interview on a educational topic. You must consider: Type of interview Sampling Location Reliability Representativeness You must then create a report highlighting the main findings and discussing the limitations and strengths of the method.
Limited interviewer effect- with structured interviews interviewe People may be more willing to provide extra information than they would in a questionnaire as they do not have to write it down. People can explain what they mean if the researcher does not understand their response. Although interviews are harder to quantify and analyse, the structured interview does provide a basis for analysis.
Interviewer bias- the interviewers presence may influence the responses the interviewee gives, they may give answers that they think the interviewer wants to hear rather than giving their own view. Also the interviewers personal characteristics, such as age and gender may have an adverse effect on the responses provided.
Work in pairs, one person needs to be the interviewer, the other needs to be the interviewee. Conduct a semi-structured interview on the following area: CAREER CHOICE AND GENDER. Discuss Career options, why considering certain jobs, why not considering others, equal access? Motivations for this choice.
Interviews LO: To understand how to conduct interviews and to be aware of theadvantages and disadvantages of this method.
What are Interviews?• What is a:• Structured Interview?• Semi Structured Interview?• Unstructured Interview?
Unstructured interviews• This is an interview which does not use any set questions.• Instead the interviewer has a topic area and talks to the interviewee in a conversational way.• Open ended questions• Produces qualitative data
Theoretical• Interpretivists prefer as they seek to discover meanings that underlie our actions• Unstructured Interviews give people the opportunity to talk openly, unrestricted by fixed questions• Ensuring meaning and worldview emerges more clearly• Main advantage is they create data that is high in validity• Positivist reject as each in unique and cannot be replicated
Task: Unstructured Interviews• Work in pairs. One person needs to be the interviewer another the interviewee.• Research focus: People’s views on the decline of marriage and rising cohabitation. CONSIDER: Possible advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages• Sensitive issues can be researched.• Interviewee is put at ease and may open up more.• Answers can be developed and explained further.• Interviewer can ask further questions.• Data has greater validity.
Disadvantages• Interviewer-interviewee bond may increase likelihood that respondent attempts to please researcher• Produces a lot of data that needs to be interpreted and selected for detail• Lacks reliability as not replicable• Lack of representativeness• Age, gender, ethnicity etc of interviewer may affect responses (Interviewer bias)• Social Desirability• Cost of training• Relevance
Validity• Informal, conversational nature means trust and rapport can develop. Comfort= opening up• Avoids the danger of the sociologist imposing ideas onto interview process as there are no set questions or fixed response categories• Flexibility of interview adds to validity...researcher can follow up any issues raised• Open ended questioning allows interviewees scope to give detailed, in depth reactions.
Group interviews• The interviewer usually meets 8-10 people at one go.• Focus groups are a type of group interview where the group discusses various pre-set issues.
Advantages• P’s feel more comfortable therefore may open up• Groups throw around ideas, stimulating thinking• Useful in generating initial ideas for later researchDisadvantages• Individuals may feel that they haven’t had a chance to give their own view.• Individuals may dominate the group interview• Group may go off topic• Peer groups pressure may occur with people conforming to group norms• Data more complex and difficult to analyse
Structured Interviews• A structured interview is where the interviewer has a pre prepared set of questions (in the form of a questionnaire) which he/she reads out to the interviewee.• They are not allowed to deviate from the set questions except to clarify the meaning of the question.
What are the advantages anddisadvantages of using structured interviews?
Advantages of using structured interviews….1. Reliable (directly comparable and replicable)2. Allows the interviewer to clarify the meaning of the question3. People who have trouble reading and writing can participate.4. Cheap to complete5. Limited interviewer effect6. Representativeness- can reach a larger audience7. People may be willing to provide extra info than in a questionnaire8. Easier to analyse
Disadvantages of using structured interviews…1. Lack of validity:• Researcher decides questions in advance therefore limiting what respondent can talk about (and in turn limiting validity)• Wording of some questions may need interpretation that researcher cannot give• Truthfulness of respondent• Interviewer effect- respondent may interpret interviewers social characteristics e.g. age, gender, class in ways to influence their responses
2. Unreliable- interviewees may lie, the interview cannot be exactly replicated as the data is influenced by the individual interviewer.3. The definite structure of the interview can lead to areas of interest missed as the interviewer has to stick to set questions.4. Sensitive issues- sometimes a rapport is required5. Interviewer bias6. Leading questions- the interviewer may ask the questions in such a way as to lead the interviewee to give the desired response.
Theoretical• Positivists employ the use of structured interviews• Structured interviews use a fixed list of closed ended questions so answers can be classified, counted and quantified.• Identify patterns• Produce generalisations and cause-&- effect statements• Reliable (easily replicable)• Interpretivists suggest they lack validity
Semi-structured Interviews• Structured interviews are lists of questions which are focused on rigidly.• Whereas semi structured interviews have lists of questions or areas of interest that the interviewer uses to direct the interview but the interviewer can ask other questions.
Advantages• Share many of the advantages of structured interviews.• Interviewer can probe for more information.• Adds depth and validity to research data.Disadvantages• Loss of standardisation & comparability.• Probes make each interview slightly different• More chance of interviewer bias than in structured interviews.• Less quantitative data – less scientific.
Exam Practice• Suggest one advantage and one disadvantage of using group interviews rather than one to one interviews in sociological research. (4 marks)• Suggest one advantage and one disadvantage if researchers establishing a rapport with their interviewees. (4 marks)• Explain the difference between structured and unstructured interviews. (4 marks)
Interviews in Context• Paul Willis conducted group interviews.• Labov conducted interviews to study language codes.• Jackson (2006) ‘Lads and Ladetts in school’ used semi-structured interviews.• Diane Reay (1998) mothers involvement was found out through the interviews conducted.