What is interviewing and when is this method useful? What does it mean to select rather than sample interviewees? Once the researcher has found people to interview, how does she build a working relationship with her interviewees? What should the dynamics of talking and listening in interviews be? How do researchers begin to analyze the narrative data generated through interviews?
Lee Ann Fujii explores the answers to these inquiries in Interviewing in Social Science Research, the latest entry in the Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods. This short, highly readable book explores an interpretive approach to interviewing for purposes of social science research. Using an interpretive methodology, the book examines interviewing as a relational enterprise. As a relational undertaking, interviewing is more akin to a two-way dialogue than a one-way interrogation. Fujii examines the methodological foundations for a relational approach to interviewing, while at the same time covering many of the practical nuts and bolts of relational interviewing. Examples come from the author’s experiences conducting interviews in Bosnia, Rwanda, and the United States, and from relevant literatures across a variety of social scientific disciplines. Appendices to the book contain specific tips and suggestions for relational interviewing in addition to interview excerpts that give readers a sense of how relational interviews unfold.
This book will be of great value to graduate students and researchers from across the social sciences who are considering or planning to use interviews in their research, and can be easily used by academics for teaching courses or workshops in social science methods.
Table of Contents
1. What is Relational Interviewing? 2. Building Working Relationships. 3. Selecting, Finding, and Approaching Interviewees. 4. Strategies for Conducting Interviews. 5. I Have My Data—Now What? 6. The Ethos of Relational Interviewing. Appendix Interview Excerpts.
Lee Ann Fujii is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Canada.
HONORABLE MENTION: 2019 CHARLES TAYLOR BOOK AWARD
Excerpt from the Award
'In Interviewing in Social Science Research, Fujii successfully takes the well-established genre of methodological manual and makes it provocative and counter-intuitive. Rather than presenting an idealized version of interviewing, and then accounting for the limitations imposed by practical constraints, this book turns things around. Fujii debunks common myths about interviews and makes us see constraints, limitations, mistakes and the resistance of subjects as "gifts" that can enhance one’s research, instead of liabilities that one must accommodate or patch over. It is a masterful and accessible guide that is rich with examples and vignettes and which, in addition to being an indispensable resource for teaching and research, is an excellent reflection on the work of interpretation as essential for understanding the empirical world. That it draws substantively on Lee Ann’s own experiences of interviewing, which are shared with great honesty and humility, is testament to her outstanding ability to show us that interviewing is a fundamentally human encounter, as well a poignant reminder of her untimely passing that continues to be mourned.'
'In this important text, Lee Ann Fujii shows how qualitative researchers gather high-quality data through field research. In this inherently social and relational process, she shows how the researcher and subject together produce narratives and other kinds of data, and argues for why analysis should focus on the data’s underlying logic rather than merely the reconstruction of facts. These themes are rarely given such clarity and emphasis—Fujii’s is a very wise text.'—Elisabeth Jean Wood, Yale University, USA
'This is a little gem of a book about the process of interviewing. Lee Ann Fujii skillfully weaves together a critically reflexive relational philosophy with helpful examples and good practical advice.'—Rosalind Edwards, University of Southampton, UK
'In Interviewing in Social Science Research, Lee Ann Fujii promotes a logic and rationale for relational interviewing, explicitly accounting for the duality in power dynamics and discourse between interviewer and subject. In the course of an interview, each party continuously attempts to make sense of the other and to feel secure in their midst. Consequently, Fujii argues that an interviewer’s ability to properly analyze the "data" rests in their reflections on the mutual agentic acts unfolding during the conversation: moments of silence, reverse questioning, abrupt refusals to talk about issues that are then talked about, and other such behaviors. This important book gets to the heart of the messiness and the revelation of the research-interviewing endeavor, to uncover how people make meaning in the social world.'—Alford A. Young, Jr., University of Michigan, USA
'A fascinating and thought-provoking read, Lee Ann Fujii's new book has particular value in making reflexive ethics integral to the relational approach. Fujii offers a practical guide to interviewing, combining accounts of real-life (but rarely shared) challenges from a range of studies from across the world, with advice about how to manage complex issues, including selecting participants and addressing positionality. A great resource for students and more experienced researchers.'—Janet Boddy, University of Sussex, UK