Who Am I Interviewing?

Andrew W. Metcalfe


The last twenty years have seen an increasing emphasis on the role of the subject both in sociological theory and in methodological guides on the unstructured qualitative research interview. I will argue that this emphasis on subjects is misplaced and cannot lead to a clear understanding of social relations or sociological interviewing. To make this argument I will look at what could be taken as the basic social relation in social research: the qualitative interview between sociologist and research participant. I will argue that major methodological problems arise when interviewees are addressed as identified subjects and when interviews are understood as exchanges between subjects. I will also argue that sociologists who presume subjectivity in this way are not clear about the methodology of interviews because they are not clear about the basic logic of social relation. As well as trying to clarify this logic, I will also try to draw out some of the practical implications of a genuinely social understanding of the interview.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v1i2.123


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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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