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Term 1 Week 3

(Semi-)Structured Interviews

The interview is probably the most widely employed method in qualitative research, in particular due to its flexibility and broad application spectrum. Qualitative interviewing varies a great deal in the approach taken by the interviewer, predominantly along two dimensions: type (semi- versus structured) and respondents (elite versus masses). In any case, interviews need to be carefully prepared if the collected data shall be suitable for subsequent systematic analysis. This class discusses the different ways to conduct interviews as well as the specific sensitivities involved.

Methodological readings Applied readings
  • [1] Fielding, N. and H. Thomas (2008) Qualitative Interviewing, in: N. Gilbert (ed.) Researching Social Life. Sage (3rd edition), Ch. 13 (pp. 245-265).
  • [2] Leech, B. (2002) Asking Questions: Techniques for Semistructured Interviews, PS: Political Science & Politics 35(4): 665-668.
  • [3] Richards, D. (1996) Elite Interviewing: Approaches and Pitfalls, Politics 16(3): 199-204.

[1] Book are available as hard copy in library in 2008 and 2001 editions (HM511.R47). Please see here for a scanned copy of the chapter (PDF Document).

[2] [3] Journal available as e-journal through library. Simply copy-paste the title of the article into the article search function of the 'encore'-platform.

  • [1] Hooghe, L. (1999) Images of Europe: Orientations toward European Integration among Senior Officials of the Commission, British Journal of Political Science 29(2): 345-367.
  • [2] Pollack, M. (1998) Constructivism, Social Psychology, and Elite Attitude Change. Lessons from an Exhausted Research Program. Paper Presented at the Conference Of Europeanists, Baltimore, MD., February 26.

[1] Journal available as e-journal through library. Simply copy-paste the title of the article into the article search function of the 'encore'-platform.

[2] A copy of the conference paper can be downloaded here (PDF Document).

Recommended readings
  • [1] Guest, G., A. Bunce and L. Johnson (2006) How Many Interviews Are Enough? An Experiment with Data Saturation and Variability, Field Methods 18(1): 59–82.
  • [2] “Symposium: Interview Methods in Political Science” (2002), PS: Political Science and Politics 35(4): 663–688.

[1] Journal available as e-journal through library. Simply copy-paste the title of the journal into the search function of the 'encore'-platform.

[2] Journal article can be downloaded here (PDF Document).