SC520-7-SP: INTERVIEWING AND QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
Essex credit: 20
ECTS credit: 10
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
|Module is taught during the following terms
This course gives students a practical grounding in the theory and methods of qualitative interviewing, and of qualitative data analysis. It has the following key aims:
* to equip students with the skills and confidence to tackle a qualitative study of their own in the future
* to examine the nature of qualitative interviews, and review when they are an appropriate research method
* to take students through the qualitative research process, including design, selection of interview subjects, fieldwork and analysis
* to develop practical skills in conducting different types of interview, including: in-depth individual interviews and focus groups
* to give an overview of different approaches to qualitative data analysis
* to provide an opportunity for students to analyze interview data they have collected during the course
The class takes a shared research topic, and conducts a mini qualitative study. Students are required to carry out small weekly assignments in relation to the shared research topic. The main assessed assignment will be to conduct an in-depth interview, and write an essay/report (approx 3500 words) comparing their own interview with two others, and analyzing how the interview illuminates sociological aspects of the shared research topic.
Learning & Teaching Methods
Week 16 - Introduction of Shared Research Topic
This lecture will introduce the course aims, including a discussion of the research topic we will examine through a collaborative mini-qualitative study. We will discuss some of the epistemological underpinnings of qualitative research, followed by a practical discussion of the first stages of devising a research project, from researching comparative case studies, to selecting research subjects and gaining access.
Week 17 - Introduction to Interviewing
This lecture explores different epistemological approaches to interviewing, introducing how and why interviews are useful in qualitative research, what kind of data they generate, and the differences between particular interviewing approaches. We will discuss accessing different research informants, and explore the ethics and politics of interviewing different social groups, from 'elite' to 'vulnerable' sources. We will compare sociological and journalistic approaches to interviewing, and discuss some of the political and ethical dilemmas raised by investigating hard-to-access, illegal or socially taboo areas, such as illicit drug consumption, trafficking, regulatory corruption, sexual 'deviance,' or political or corporate fraud.
Week 18 - Interview preparation and standardized topic guides
The lecture will, firstly, discuss the various background and supplementary materials useful in preparing for an interview, from the use of topic guides, to carrying out comprehensive background searches. We will discuss questions of informant privacy and anonymity - and compare the benefits and detriments of anonymizing the identity of sources.
Week 19 - The interview relationship and the development of research skills
We will discuss the skills - empathy, understanding, attentiveness - useful during interviews, and explore the ethics of asking deliberatively provocative or obtrusive questions. We will discuss techniques for ensuring research subjects have the space to tell their own narratives, while structuring interviews towards pertinent information.
Week 20 - Moderating Focus Groups
This lecture will discuss the epistemological underpinnings of focus groups, and examine when group interviews may be preferable, and likely to yield more illuminating or explanatory data, to individual interviews. We explore the role of the moderator in seeking to appear either impartial and unobtrusive, or intentionally directional, and explore the ethics and politics of either approach.
Week 22 - Criticizing and learning from interviews
Through empirical examples, we will assess various interviews - our own and others - in order to explore when different strategies, from provocation to empathy, yield alternatively surprising, counterintuitive or confirmative information. We will discuss the practicalities of citing interview material, questions of legal culpability for disseminating sensitive material, and reiterate some of the dilemmas raised by questions of informant identity and privacy.
Week 23 - The politics of interpretation
This lecture explores the politics of interpretation, and discusses the skills and strategies useful for examining and analyzing interviews for key themes and / or omissions. We will examine how to extrapolate themes from interviews, and how to take into consideration the politics of 'missing' data - accidentally or deliberately omitted information that may be relevant to one's research.
Week 24 - Computer-assisted data analysis
We will explore various digital tools and computer-assisted methods for storing, coding and analyzing interviews.
Week 25 - Reporting findings
We will discuss the challenge and advantages of reporting findings to different publics: media, popular audiences, academic audiences, and policymakers. We will explore epistemological and political questions surrounding the effort to develop a 'public sociology,' and the detriments and advantages of modeling sociological practices on techniques from investigative journalism. Finally, we will discuss pitching media articles and designing press releases.
100 per cent Coursework Mark
Exam Duration and Period
Please be aware that this course includes a lot of experiential learning and it is mandatory to attend each week.
- A course reader will be available with weekly required reading. The following additional texts are useful for the module, and it is recommended at least is purchased:
Bryman,A. (2008) Social Research Methods (Third Edition), Oxford: OUP Press.
Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, Paul. Ethnography: Principles in Practice (Third Edition) Routledge. London and New York.
Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. Strategies of Qualitative Research Inquiry. Sage.