Interviewing and Qualitative Field Methods: Pragmatism and Practicalities

Brian Christopher Rathbun

in The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199286546
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577307 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Interviewing and Qualitative Field Methods: Pragmatism and Practicalities

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  • Comparative Politics
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This article recommends the use of intensive, in-depth interviews which can help to establish motivations and preferences, even though they must deal with the perils of ‘strategic reconstruction’. The first section of this article makes the pragmatic case for interviewing. The second portion is devoted to assembling in one place the consensus in the literature on the basics of how to undertake interviews, including issues of how to build arguments using interview data, how to structure questionnaires, the proper role to adopt vis-à-vis respondents, and how to gain access to conversation partners. Doubts about the status of interview data and the reliability of respondents must be taken into account but can be addressed. These disadvantages rarely outweigh the unique advantages of interviewing.

Keywords: interviewing; qualitative field methods; pragmatism; strategic reconstruction; interviews

Article.  8491 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; Political Methodology

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