Thinking the Interview: On the Epistemology of an Intersubjective Field Method (Part I) release_wo2swgedwbgwbpeq4l7rxzqmf4

by Vlado Kotnik

Published in Monitor ISH by Alma Mater Europaea - ECM.

2014   Volume 16, p7-44


The paper presents the complex issue of understanding and conducting an interview as the predominant form of empirical qualitative research. The epistemology of this particular intersubjective field method is viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective, despite the assumption that the interview method as a means of collecting data and information has been brought to the most differentiated uses and sophisticated reflections by the anthropological science. The red thread of the text's argument is the constant adaptability, changeability and interchangeability of the subject and object positions which are established by researcher and informant in an interview. For an easier grasp of the fluid, flexible and circumstantial construction of the particular interpersonal relationship within an interview situation, the author proposes eight perspectives, based on well-established theories of some important thinkers in the field of the social sciences and humanities, which may be helpful in reflecting on the positions, roles, investments, and doings of the two protagonists within an interview situation: performative perspective, derived from the theory of speech acts (John L. Austin); polyphonic perspective, based on the theory of enunciation (Oswald Ducrot); interpellational perspective, developed on the basis of the theory of ideology (Louis Althusser); discursive perspective, underpinned by the theory of power and authority (Michel Foucault); psychoanalytic perspective, centred around the theory of the unconscious (Sigmund Freud); ethnographic perspective, capped by the theory of reflexivity (Pierre Bourdieu); mnemonic perspective, grounded on the theory of memory (Maurice Halbwachs); dramaturgical perspective, supported by the theory of interaction (Erving Goffman). Whether the interview is taken as a research method, a special social encounter or a series of tasks to be performed by interviewer and interviewee, it is clear that each and every interview is a unique event of specific human contact and communication.
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