The Interview: From Formal to Postmodern / Edition 1

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Used by everyone from survey researchers to oral historians, the interview may be the most basic and essential field method in the qualitative researcher’s toolkit. In this concise, student-friendly guide, Fontana and Prokos give a cogent introduction to the history, types, and methods of interviewing in the social sciences. They outline the range of ways in which interviews are conducted, both structured and unstructured, then provide instruction on conducting and interpreting interviews, and address ethical considerations in eliciting information from people. The authors also point to recent and future trends that will affect the use of this method. For researchers who need a primer and for students in methods courses or assigned fieldwork projects in other courses across the social sciences, this short, inexpensive volume is ideal.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Interview is a major new book on the oldest of sociological methods. The grasp of the field is definitive. It moves from the modern to the postmodern, from oral history to grounded theory, active interviews, to the interview as a negotiated accomplishment. Accessible, well-written, this book will become the point of reference for all future treatments of the interview. " —Norman K. Denzin, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

" I sat down to read The Interview, expecting a textbook; soon I was caught up in an engaging, well-written and unfolding story about the interview society, the different approaches to interviews, their history, how they are used academically, and future directions. Full of poignant examples, this book is unique in its coverage of interviews along the continuum from art to science. Readers will appreciate the authors’ focus on ethics and gender, as well as on electronic interviewing. This book makes a valuable contribution to qualitative classes that attempt to introduce students to the full range of research possibilities. I know it will fill a niche in my graduate qualitative methods class." —Carolyn Ellis, Univ. of South Florida

"Fontana and Prokos simplify the essential features of interviewing and direct practitioners and theorists to a new appreciation of how to talk with people for maximum impact and minimum damage. The section New Trends in Interviewing illuminates how reflexive sociology can move forward without forgetting important lessons from the past. This is a good book." —David Altheide, Arizona State University

"Qualitative and quantitative researchers have come to rely on the interview as a basic method of data gathering, whether with a single subject or thousands. Fontana and Prokos (both sociology, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas) concentrate on methods of interviewing a range of subjects in research relating to social science, but their ideas also translate to research in liberal and fine arts. They describe how interviewing has become ubiquitous in Western society and why, techniques of structured and group interviewing, unstructured interviewing, including understanding the language and culture of the respondents, locating informants, gaining trust, and collecting empirical material, and describe types of unstructured interviewing such as oral history and postmodern interviewing with attention to grounded theory and gender. They consider the ethics of interviewing, new trends such as empathetic interviewing and the interview as a negotiated accomplishment and give future directions in formal, group, unstructured and electronic interviewing." —Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598741094
  • Publisher: Left Coast Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 148
  • Sales rank: 1,344,275
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Fontana is Professor of Sociology and department chair at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He has published articles on aging, leisure, theory, and postmodernism. He is the author of the Last Frontier: the Social Meaning of Growing Old, co-author of Social Problems, Sociologies of Everyday Life, and coeditor of The Existential Self in Society and Postmodernism and Social Inquiry. He is a former president of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction and a former editor of the journal Symbolic Interaction. Among Fontana’s last published essays are a deconstruction of the work of the painter Hieronymus Bosch, a performance/play about Farinelli, the castrato, an ethnographic narrative about land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and a performance based on "Six Feet Under." Fontana is currently working on a text, Death in America, for Polity Press.Anastasia H. Prokos is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She received her Ph.D. from Florida State University. Her primary research area is gender and work, which includes an emphasis on labor market inequalities as they relate to gender, race, and family. Most recently she has published papers on the earnings gap in science and engineering occupations in Gender & Society, and on gender and ethnoracial inequalities in employer-provided health insurance access and coverage in Sociological Inquiry. Prokos is currently expanding her research on health insurance disparities and continues to study gender and labor market inequality.

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Table of Contents

Preface     7
Interviewing in Perspective     9
The Interview Society     11
The History of Interviewing     13
Structured Interviewing     19
Group Interviewing     29
Unstructured Interviewing     39
Accessing the Setting     43
Understanding the Language and Culture of the Respondents     43
Deciding How to Present Oneself     44
Locating an Informant     44
Gaining Trust     45
Establishing Rapport     46
Collecting Empirical Material     47
Types of Unstructured Interviewing     49
Oral History     49
Creative Interviewing     51
Postmodern Interviewing     52
Grounded Theory and the Interview     56
Gender and Interviewing     59
Framing and Interpreting Interviews     69
Framing Interviews     69
Interpreting Interviews     72
Ethical Considerations     77
New Trends in Interviewing     83
The Interview as a Negotiated Accomplishment     84
Empathetic Interviewing     88
The Problematics of New Approaches     94
Future Directions     97
Formal Interviews     97
Group Interviews     101
Unstructured Interviews     102
Electronic Interviewing     107
Conclusion     111
Glossary     115
References     123
Index     141
About the Authors     147
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