Conference Agenda

RN20_06: Situatedness and Data Collection II: Transcending the Boundaries of Situations
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Katarina Jacobsson, Lund university
Location: UP.3.209
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


Transcending the Boundaries of Doing interviews

Uwe Flick

Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Interviewing used to be seen as a well-defined setting of doing qualitative research. In most cases, interviews were conducted in a face-to-face situation between two people (interviewer and interviewee) in a specific room for example. Interviews mostly were limited to one meeting. They are usually based on a common language and a number of implicit assumptions about cultural background knowledge shared by the participants. Many studies relied on one type of interviewing used as a stand-alone method. This well-defined setting has recently been challenged not only by online or Skype based interviewing or by using mobile methods with participants in the fields. Complex issues of research also ask for transcending the interview setting in other ways, which are the focus of this paper. Its background is a study about labour market integration of refugees who came to Germany lately. The interview setting had to be transcended in several directions: Many interviews were conducted in Arabic, either with interpreters or followed by translation into German afterwards. For covering the process of integration over time, repeated interviews in a longitudinal design are necessary. For more comprehensively understanding the process of finding long-term gainful work, episodic interviews with the refugees are triangulated with different methods – expert interviews with other actors such as employers, job centre staff, activists from informal initiatives etc. This paper will discuss these challenges and examples of our experiences with transcending the interview setting for their methodological implications in conceiving relations and communication in interviews.

Discourse Ethnography. On Analysing Structures That Transcend the Boundaries of Situated Action

Florian Elliker

University of St.Gallen, Switzerland

Discourse ethnography can be understood as research design that uses ethnographic fieldwork to study how macro-level structures are intertwined with micro- and meso-level contexts in shaping locally situated action. Situated action is also (but not only) constrained by elements external to the situation. Such external constraints do not necessarily need to become manifest in the situation to be relevant for action: Departing from a (radical) situational and interactionist perspective, I suggest to conceptualize such elements as meaning contexts. Such macro-structural meaning contexts do not, however, govern local action in ‘unmediated’ ways; rather, meso- and micro-level knowledge conglomerates are fundamentally implicated in shaping how macro-level processes produce specific social outcomes.

Discourse ethnographies can be used to pursue a range of analytical pur-poses. Amongst these are the following: (1) With an interest in understanding and analysing local settings in their complexity, discourse ethnographies aim at studying how a more or less diverse range of discourses shapes a given local setting that is additionally structured by local knowledge. (2) If interested in studying a particular discourse, a discourse ethnographic approach entails sampling and comparing a range of different micro contexts to reconstruct the typical ways in which this discourse constructs social reality, inflected and co-produced by the local knowledge in these different contexts.

In the paper, I address some of the methodological challenges that such research designs pose, particularly what type of data is needed to plausibly reconstruct how discourses as macro-structures shape situated action. The paper draws on an ethnographic case study of a large-scale transformation process of groups that are embedded in a shared organizational contexts.

Changing Stories or Stories of Change? The Restructuring of ‘the Self’ Across Multiple Interviews with the Same Informant

Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson, Nichlas Permin Berger

VIVE - The Danish Center for Social Science Research, Denmark

This paper explores how multiple interviews with the same informant carry important knowledge about social change and the use of interview data. Qualitative researchers largely agree that interviews are interactional events that enable interviewees' to manage and accomplish consistent presentations of 'self'. From a social interactionist perspective, the narrative construction of self is always conditioned by the social context in which they are produced. However, when analysing interviews their interactional structure is often set aside in order to conceive data as valid expressions of the interviewee’s ‘real’ self. This paper analyses four interviews with two different interviewees; a young man with experiences of living in out-of-home care and a young mother who had her baby girl placed in out-of-home care. Both of their lives are thus in different ways are structured by interventions from the child protection system. By comparing the different interviews, the analysis focuses on how the interviewee’s stories are not fixed over time and across interviews. Rather, the interviewee’s stories and presentations of their self change – sometimes dramatically – between interviews. The analysis highlights three dimensions that influence these changes 1) the micro-organisation of the interview situation, 2) the organisation of everyday life, and 3) macro-level structures – such as social welfare interventions. The discussion interprets the dimensions as facilitators of stories of self-change, rather than documentation of how interviewee’s deliberately manipulating their stories of self. A focus on analysing changes in stories from one interview to the next can contribute important knowledge to our understanding of the interviewee’s sometimes fragile experiences of self and, more generally, the significance of such changes for our interpretations of qualitative data.

Disentangled Drug Trajectories And Recursive Methods: How Young People Use Illegal Drugs During Transitions From Adolescence Into Adulthood

Lars Fynbo, Jeanette Østergaard

VIVE - The Danish Centre for Social Science Research, Denmark

Contemporary drug research conceives addiction as a mental disorder with harmful individual and social consequences. From this perspective, drug addiction develops through continuous stages comprising a drug trajectory. Each stage outlines different risk characteristics and entails different consequences for the individual’s social life, family, etc. This study analyses drug trajectories in a non-clinical sample of 49 people selected from a cohort survey to 6,000 children born in 1995. The 49 interviewees participated in biographical qualitative interviews at age 17, 19 and 22. Focusing on the 29 interviewees with illegal drug consumption experiences, the study plots everyone's drug trajectory from initiation, via experimentation, regular and risky use, towards addiction. The analysis gives special attention to the nine interviewees who reported risky use touching upon drug addiction. Rather than focusing on the boundaries delimiting the different stages of each drug trajectory, the analysis explores the young people's transitions between stages, including changes in the interviewees' risk perceptions and to their social lives. The analysis finds that drug trajectories for this sample are not always linear but more often recursive with several interviewees moving "back" and "forth" within the same trajectory over time. Based on the empirical analysis, the study concludes that to conceive drug trajectories as linear and somewhat logical pathways towards (eventually) addiction may not apply to non-clinical drug users. Instead the study proposes three new types of trajectories: 1) straight-forward trajectories (consistent with current conceptions), 2) recursive trajectories and 3) non-trajectories.