Assess the Value of Interviews in Sociological Research (33 Marks)

1098 Words5 Pages
Interviews are face to face conversations typically involving sets of questions. There are two main types of interviews; structured and unstructured. However, in addition there are other types of interviews such as semi-structured and group interviews. Structured interviews are very much like questionnaires in that they involve asking people a set of fixed questions, usually involving pre-coded answers, therefore producing largely quantitative data. However the main difference is that structured interviews involved social interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee, whereas questionnaires have no involvement with the researcher. Structured interviews are favoured by positivist, they believe that society can be studied like science; therefore they try to establish a cause and effect relationship. Positivists argue that structured interviews produce representative and generalisable findings. They believe they are reliable, objective and a detached method of producing quantitative data and testing hypothesis. On the other hand interpretivists do not agree with positivists. They argue that structured interviews produce a false picture of society because interviewers have little freedom to explain or clarify misunderstandings and any questions. Also feminists disagree with positivists because they are that the relationship between the interviewer and interviewee reflect the exploitive nature of gender relationships within patriarchal society. Graham takes this further by arguing to structured interviews give a distorted view on women’s experiences. They impose categories on women, making it difficult to express experiences, and therefore hiding the unequal power relationships between the sexes. Unstructured interviews are more informal. Questions are not set with pre-coded answers, therefore producing largely qualitative data. The interviewer is free to
Open Document