Unstructured Interviews Essay

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Examine the advantages for sociologist in using unstructured interviews in their research An unstructured interview is like a guided conversation. It is where the interviewer has complete freedom to vary the questions from one interview to the next. Therefore meaning they are able to pursue a line of questioning that may occur. Whereas a structured interview is very similar to a questionnaire in that the interviewer is given an interview schedule. This is a list of questions to be asked in an interview. These questions would be asked to everybody that partakes in the interview. This means that the questions cannot be altered at all and the interviewer cannot go into further detail on any points. A practical and theoretical advantage of using unstructured interviews is that they allow the research to develop a rapport with the research participants and allow the researcher to handle difficult topics sensitively. An example of this is William Labov (1973). Labov used a more formal interview to study the language of black American children but they appeared to be ‘linguistically deprived’ and unsure of what to say. When he started to become more relaxed and use an informal style the children had a completely different response. They opened up and spoke freely showing that they were competent speakers. This study shows that the children found it much easier to speak to William Labov when he took on a more relaxed manner with them. When people are spoken to in an informal and relaxed way it makes them feel more comfortable with speaking to the researcher. Putting them in a relaxed situation means they are more prepared to speak openly and freely about situations that may be sensitive. Unstructured interviews allow you to speak informally with the participants and so is the best method for when dealing with topics that may be sensitive. The interviewer can show the
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