• Used to gain an understanding of people’s experience in the world
  • Usually have two people – one interviewer and one interviewee
  • The technique emerged at the beginning of the 20th Century in early sociology
  • Interviews developed through psychology and psychoanalysis
  • In the 1950s there was problematic use of the interview in market research
  • In the 1980s qualitative use of interview methods developed
  • Interview style paradigms have been incorporated in technology (skype, chat windows)
  • Interviews are embedded in culture (police interview, job interview)
  • Geertz 1984 – talked about how it is strange we try and take a person outside of context, when we are made as a person by that same context
  • Interview as the one night stand – chatting up the person
  • Ezzy – interview as the committed relationship, emotions are central to conducting interviews
  • Agnostic style of interview is when the interviewer actively challenges the interview – does this create data that is more challenging, engaging and interesting?


What surprised me about the lecture on interviews, was how little I had actually thought about the paradigm of the interview, what it involves, the benefits and the flaws. As a researcher I’ve taken the interview for granted, assuming straight away that it would be the best method for my research project without actually learning more about what interview is, how it can be used and what kind of data it collects. As an interviewer there are a number of approaches you can take that draw from different theories, each have their merits and their flaws. The ‘chat up’, is to try and develop a quick, intimate connection with the interviewee, in order to get the most personal information from them. Similar to this approach, the ‘committed relationship’ is a process in which the interviewee discloses information after being supported and nurtured by the interviewer, however this takes place over a longer period. In contrast to this method, is the ‘break up’  or agnostic style of interview where the interviewer aims to actively challenge the interviewer.

There is no such thing as a good interviewing style, however how you interact with your subject as an interviewer will shape what sort of interview you have. We watched Michael Parkinson interview Meg Ryan, much of the media blamed her for how unsuccessful this interview was. However when watching a YouTube clip of the interview, Parkinson is leaning forward in a very aggressive manner and the questions that he asks Ryan are also quite aggressive, almost as if he were accusing her. So when he presumably attempts to be playful in asking about Ryan’s initial career plan of becoming a journalist, it actually sounds as if he is doubtful that she would have been able to do this as a career, he almost scorns what she is saying, which appears to make Ryan feel very awkward and perhaps a little disheartened. The role as the interviewer is to try and make the subject feel like their answers are worth hearing, even if they are then going to take the agnostic style and challenge their views – the interviewee should never feel embarrassed or awkward about disclosing their ideas.

In the lecture we paired up with another person in the group with the task of interviewing them using an interview style we had learned about, either the chat up, the committed relationship or the break up. These interviews had to be about what we were researching in relation to our media research project, which would help us in another way, as explaining our ideas out loud would be very different from expressing them in written form. I was interviewed in the break up style, which meant I had to stick by my views as I was being lightly challenged by my interviewer. I chose to try the chat up style of interviewing, praising and trying to form a really quick connection with my subject. It was really interesting to see how these different approaches created two separate atmospheres and the data collected in each interview was not of the same nature. This just goes to show that the way in which you interview can shape the type of data you will collect, as a researcher I need to decide what type of interview would let me get the type of data I want to collect. In addition to this I have to consider whether the method of the interview is actually appropriate for me in the first place, when looking at visual culture, should I be collecting data like I would get from the interview?


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