Methodological Issues: Questions and interventions in the qualitative interview

Authors: Rawstrone, K.

Start date: 15 June 2016

The qualitative interview with the creative worker is a core component of many case studies within the field of Production Studies but it raises significant methodological issues. In contrast to the journalistic interview, which seeks information or opinion, the research interview seeks material that, according to Christine Cornea, can make its way into ‘an academic afterlife’ through interrogation, interpretation, scepticism and intelligence (Williams, L. R., 2008, ‘Speaking of Soft Core.’ Cinema Journal. 47(2: 129-135)). These complex self-representations of expert informants do not, in themselves however, offer generalizable facts but rather reflect ‘particular perspectives, knowledge and objectives’ (Catterall, P., 1999, The Making of Channel 4, p. xviii) and, as such, conflate the professional with the personal and the actual with the ideological. This presentation engages with the challenges faced by both the researcher and their subject in the arranging, conducting, interpretation and dissemination of such interviews, including issues such as confidentiality, situatedness, agenda-setting, critical distance and the power relationships between the researcher, their subject and the sites of academia and production. The paper forms part of my current PhD research at the University of the West of England Bristol, entitled, “Negotiating Dependence: Independent Television Producers in the UK.” This ethnographic study considers individual producers, the organisational structures they work within and with and the broader social, political and economic determinants of their practice.

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