Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

4. In-depth interviews

4.1 Introduction to in-depth interviewing
4.2 Types of in-depth interview
4.3 Methodological approaches to in-depth interviews
4.1 Introduction to in-depth interviewing
4.2 Types of in-depth interview
4.3 Methodological approaches to in-depth interviews
4.4 Doing in-depth interviews

4.4.1 Constructing an interview guide
4.4.2 Setting up the interviews
4.4.3 Interviewing Rapport Exploitation The male paradigm Dialogic interviewing Limits of shared experience Power relations Empowering Objectivication of subject cannot be avoided Probing Foreign language complications Remote interviewing Telephone interviewing Asynchronous interviews Follow-up interviews Focus groups

4.4.4 Recording interview data

4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data
4.6 Summary and conclusion

4.4 Doing in-depth interviews Empowering
Attempting to empower the respondent is an aim of some dialogic interviewing (Maynard, 1994). Oakley (1981) argued that the mutually beneficial exchange in a dialogic interview incorporates a political process of mutual reflection on the nature of the oppressive structures, in which both interviewer and interviewee operate.

Yet this raises the question of the nature of empowerment? Who decides on the empowerment process? At its worst this might result in a patronising approach, where the interviewer attempts to 'correct' the view of the unempowered respondent: to empower through consciousness raising because the researcher 'is consistently privileged, particularly through her location in a more ideologically correct position' (Opie, 1992, p. 66).

Angela McRobbie has suggested, there are dangers of a patronising stance in the assumption that feminists can or indeed should have a profound affect on participants' lives. There is also the problem of trying to convert or recruit women to a feminist perspective 'as though feminism can naturally solve all women's problems' (McRobbie 1982, p. 52).

In essence, empowering respondents is about giving the opportunity for the respondents to express themselves and to engage in dialogue, without the presumption that the researcher has a privileged perspective, sophisticated knowledge and a more ideologically correct perspective.


Next Objectivication of subject cannot be avoided