Weiss The Qualitative Interview
Weiss, R. S. (1994). Learning from strangers: The art and method of qualitative interview studies. New York: The Free Press.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Why We Interview
- Interviewing permits the researcher access to past events. Interviews offer information about the nature, the meaning, and an understanding of the phenomena.
Survey Interviewing and Qualitative Interviewing
- Survey interviewing uses fixed questions. It is considered quantitative in nature because the responses can be compared using numerical data and displayed in tables.
- Quantitative interviews do not offer insight into the meaning behind the events.
- Quotations and case descriptions are acceptable pieces of evidence for a qualitative interview. Quantitative interviewing offers breadth over numerous subjects' responses; qualitative interviewing offers depth about a few respondents' responses.
- "The style of the qualitative interview may appear conversational, but what happens in the interview is very different from what happens in an ordinary conversation. In an ordinary conversation each participant voices observations, thoughts, feelings. Either participant can set a new topic either can ask questions. In the qualitative interview the respondent provides information while the interviewer, as a representative of the study, is responsible for directing the respondent to the topics that matter to the study (p. 8)."
- The interviewer must exhibit active listening skills, which communicate to the respondent through verbal and nonverbal cues a desired interest and investment in the respondent and the topic.
Some Considerations in Undertaking a Qualitative Interview Study
Reasons to Conduct a Qualitative Interview Study (Taken from pp. 9-10).
- "Developing detailed descriptions."
- "Integrating multiple perspectives."
- "Describing process."
"Developing holistic description."
- "In general, the dense information obtained in qualitative interviewing permits description of the many sectors of a complex entity and how they go together (p. 10)."
- Reasons to Conduct a Qualitative Interview Study (Taken from pp. 9-10).
- "Learning how events are interpreted."
- "Bridging intersubjectivities."
- Identifying variables and framing hypotheses for quantitative research."
- Qualitative interviews can be time intensive. Researchers who conduct qualitative interviews tend to have a better, deeper understanding of the phenomena under study than those who conduct quantitative studies about the same phenomena.
Value as Contribution to Knowledge
- "While it can be valuable for the results of qualitative interview studies to be verified by other methods, it can also be valuable for the results of studies done by other methods to be illuminated by qualitative interview studies (p. 12)."
- Qualitative interview studies have value that is often critiqued or demeaned. It should not be valued less than quantitative studies.
A Compromise? Fixed Question, Open Response
- "Here respondents are asked carefully crafted questions but are free to answer them in their own words rather than required simply to choose one or another predetermined alternative (p. 12)."
- A desire to fit responses into coded categories and limit the respondent's responses are limitations of fixed question, open response interviews.
- This approach is constraining. Its structure forces the respondent to respond in a systematic way rather than telling the story. The information retrieved is generalized. Concrete examples are often absent.
The Phases of Qualitative Interviewing Research
- "...the phases of work in qualitative research overlap and are intermeshed. Analysis of early data contributes to new emphases in interviewing, and the new data collected by the modified interviewing then produces new analyses (p. 14)."