ASA10: The Interview - theory, practice, society

Queen's University, Belfast, 13/04/2010 – 16/04/2010

(P14)

Poster presentations

Location Outside Stranmillis Conference Hall
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]

Convenor

Jonathan Skinner (University of Roehampton) email
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Short Abstract

There will be five posters on display throughout the conference..

Long Abstract

There will be five poster presentations on display throughout the conference in the corridor between the two main rooms. One of these will be a multimedia presentation.

The authors of these posters will be alongside their work at 16:15 on Thursday to discuss their work and answer any questions delegates may have.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Asking them, asking us, and losing trust? The quandary of being asked to comment in an online dispute in eastern Germany

Author: Gareth Hamilton (University of Latvia)  email
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Short Abstract

Through examples, this poster shows the complex position of a doctoral student interviewing two informants with competing narratives, expressed in an online dispute on the quality of life offered by a ‘shrinking’ east German city, and fear of lost impartiality by possible quotation in those debates.

Long Abstract

Employing rhetoric cultural theory (cf Carrithers 2005a,b, 2007, 2009), this poster shows a potential quandary for the ethnographer resulting from face-to-face interviews with two informants involved in an online dispute over qualitative representations of a 'shrinking' (cf Engler 2005, Dietzsch 2009) eastern German city. The request for a quotation from the anthropologist by one informant, a western German journalist/blogger working for Austrian national radio, had the potential to expand the ethnographic interview's boundaries from personal, consociational, empathetic and face-to-face interaction into the relatively impersonal and uncontrolled media of cyberspace in which its potential audience, one public, spread to its counterpublic (Warner 2002) by the email newsletter of the other, local, informant, a shopkeeper and club promoter. This (counter)public's members are located within broader cultural narratives of lingering east/west mistrust, while simultaneously residents of my fieldsite. Given that the ethnographic work of locating and interacting with informants relies on mutual trust, this potential quotation raised the damaging spectre of being seen as partisan 'side-taker', and thus an untrustworthy, conversation partner. The poster demonstrates competing significances of certain contentious 'cultural items' from broader narratives transferred to the online dispute, such as the 'eastern' purchasing of bananas (cf Berdahl 1999), or consumerism and McDonalds coffee. However, by visually placing the interviewer between the competing narratives, it metaphorically highlights that being 'ethnographer in the middle' is also worth the 'risk', given the increased insight and understanding provided through the increased interpersonal intimacy of such experiences.

(How) do we interview children about the worst bushfires near Melbourne, Australia?

Authors: Colin MacDougall (Flinders University)  email
Lisa Gibbs (University of Melbourne)  email
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Short Abstract

We ask not 'how', but 'do' we, interview children about their experiences of the worst bushfires in Melbourne Australia. This is to ensure our research into this traumatic event is ethical, does no harm, and to develop considered research to inform policy and practice about children’s recovery.

Long Abstract

On 7th February 2009 a bushfire near Melbourne killed 173 people, orphaned 16 children and destroyed over 350 000 buildings and 2000 homes in 40 townships. Our team researches immediate effects of, and recovery from, the fires. Being committed to rights based research with children, we could start with the 'how' question - interview to discover rich information and use photography because this was useful in our first study of this much photographed event. Instead, we start with the 'do' question because of the public health dictum of first do no harm, our reflective practice of considering all alternatives, and our first review of literature that provided surprisingly little guidance about ethics or harm. The poster outlines how we are using a seeding grant to understand the ethical and methodological issues involved in considering the experience and recovery needs of children and young people. We know that some bushfire related services, for example school access and funding for orphans, have been provided and that there is no information about children from their own perspectives. We are engaging experts to critically review the evidence base and then, in collaboration with relevant government, community and fire-related organizations, to develop research proposals to monitor child-related policies and services. Then, and only if ethically appropriate, we will develop a child-centered approach to understanding children and young people's experiences and recovery needs. This poster outlines why the 'do' in the title is more complex than the 'how'.

Castling space: An ethnographic investigation of public spheres in Joubert Park, Johannesburg

Author: Ingrid Marais (University of Johannesburg & London South Bank University)  email
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Short Abstract

The research that this presentation is based on, attempts spatialising public spheres through focusing on everyday actions and social relations in Joubert Park, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Long Abstract

Harvey (1990), Massey (1993), and Low (2000) have all drawn attention to the relational quality of space. For Popke & Ballard (2004: 100) space in the South African context is even more important: "the subjective experiences of urban space provide one of the principle mediums through which ideas of identity, difference, democracy and citizenship are being reworked in post-Apartheid South Africa". Space in the South African context can illuminate fault-lines and cleavages within South African society. Using the idea of public sphere as an arena of engagement around common interests (Harvey 2006), this research is an attempt to answer Smith & Low's (2006) call for the spatialisation of public spheres. For Freeman (2002) and Holston (2009) public spheres are seen in everyday interactions and daily life. Through a focus on everyday life and social relationships, I attempt to illustrate how various public spheres operate in a specific public space.

Interview case studies with Japanese heart transplant recipients: the effectiveness of using a semi-structured interview technique and further considerations

Author: Ikuko Tomomatsu (Barts and The London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London)  email
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Short Abstract

I will draw on my experience of interviewing Japanese heart transplant recipients, and consider ways in which the semi-structured interview using an e-mail interview to enhance the quality of information gathering is developed with these cases.

Long Abstract

Heart transplantation has been discussed for about forty years in Japan, as a matter of social consensus, a legal issue, and a matter of organ donation. By contrast, the actual experiences of heart transplant recipients have been neglected in the discussion. Understanding the experiences of Japanese heart transplant patients is important for planning the future of the procedure.

In this project I have conducted interviews with 8 Japanese heart transplant recipients, and will be conducting interviews with another 12, using a semi-structured technique. The advantage of a semi-structured interview is that interviewer can explore in depth with interviewees and ask questions about complex matters. These interviews give the participant an opportunity to describe their experiences of the transplant process and to voice their opinions. Because it is the first time these informants have been interviewed by a social science researcher, I have found that they are unsure as to what extent they should describe their experiences and opinions to me. Therefore, establishing trust is important. I will explore the way in which I have tried to establish trust, and how to further develop the semi-structured technique. In addition, I suggest a way in which an e-mail interview can be combined with the semi-structured interview to enhance the quality of the information gathered.

Comparing interview transcripts and survey data of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth: puzzles of reliability, validity and ontology

Author: Diana van Bergen (The Netherlands Institute for Social Research)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper discusses the challenges posed by data triangulation, e.g. contradictions that emerged when survey data and interview transcripts were compared of the same research subjects. Employing these two sources of knowledge creation coined questions of reliability, validity and ontology.

Long Abstract

The paper discusses the challenges posed by data triangulation, e.g. contradictions that emerged when survey data and interview transcripts were compared of the same research subjects. The survey data consisted of the first large scale Dutch study (n=1650) of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth (LGB)and aimed for statistics on the amount of acceptance and wellbeing experienced by Dutch LGB youth. Subsequently, 30 interviews were conducted with Dutch LGB youth who experienced high levels of homo-negativity in order to understand processes of victimization and coping strategies. The survey results and the narrated experiences sometimes demonstrated contradictions. Puzzles that emerged between the two methods included inconsistencies of sexual identification and sexual attraction in respondents as well as contradictions observed in reports of experiences of homo-negativity in LGB youth. This renders it difficult to maintain the standpoint that quantitative and qualitative research strategies are complementary, and coins questions of reliability, validity and ontology. The aim of the paper is not to underscore which research method constitutes 'the most accurate account', rather the focus is on interpreting contrasting truth claims. Several epistemological arguments will be unfolded, discussed and assessed. For example, do these contradictions support the idea that we simply we have to deal with multiple realities that originate from situated and contextually informed knowledge? Or do these transcripts merely support the claim expressed by several ethnographers that questionnaires are never able to fully understand the dynamics of human sexuality? Alternatively, it could be argue that these transcripts guide the way to improve the quality of surveys designs.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.