Many qualitative researchers do not think twice when they start doing research. They start with an interview. They want to do an interview study. And some of my colleagues would say, well, that’s very bad. Because not always the interview is the best way to approach a research question. Exactly about this I'm going to talk in this lecture, because we step into an interview really easy, because we have a certain view of the interview. Certain visions or certain vision on interviewing as a method. And in this short lecture, I would like to tell you something about some of these visions, and some of its critique. As you probably know, the interview has been defined by Beatrice Potter Webb and Sidney Webb, as a conversation with a purpose, and that's a rather classical view. It's 1932. It's a conversation with a purpose and the purpose is to gather information. And that view is a view of the interview as a tunnel. A tunnel to someone's brain, or to someone's heart, or to someone's history. And the purpose of the interview then is to obtain as much and as specific as possible information that is also useful, about events and facts and emotions, experiences, attitudes and so on and so forth, about the live world. Let's not forget about that, about the live world of the interviewee. So what you want to do then, is you view an interview as a tunnel to someone's brain, to someone's memories. Or a tunnel to someone's heart, to someone's emotions, or someone's past. It's a tool through which you gather information about something outside of the interview. So if you think about the interview like this, it is a tunnel to the head of the interviewer and thus this tunnel has to be as directly as possible. This tunnel has to be as neutral as possible. This tunnel also has to be as reliable, and as valid as possible. And how do you deal with that? How do you create a reliable and valid interview? Well, you create this by using good instruments. Such as good questions, you need a good question. You do not want double-barreled questions, or suggestive questioning, or over-directive questioning. No, you want good questions in order to have as valid information as possible. It should not be disturbed, this tunnel. So you need not only good questions, but also good question order. You need good interviewer behavior, not an interviewer that is very active for the first interview and very relaxed and laid back for the second interview. Because then, you can't really compare those interviewed. They're not reliable, they're not comparable. You also need the interviewer to pose each and the same question to every person in order to compare, otherwise people use different tunnels, and then things might go wrong. So people need the same introduction, and the same interview behavior. And lastly, you also need good interviewee behavior, so this interviewee has to be trained, as well. The interviewee, he or she, does not have to give socially desirable answers. No, this interviewee has to give good, honest answers. Honest to the heart or to the brain. So how does it look like, an interview as a tunnel? Well, the question you pose when you see the interview as a tunnel is this. What does an interviewee say about a certain topic? So it's especially about the what. What does an interviewee say? As a witness, for instance, or about someone's history, about someone's life work. How do you reflect on aging or something? Or on emotions? And some people would call this emotionalism. And that's more of a positive form of interviewing. So it relates to epistemology, again. Obviously, there's also critique on this view of interviewing, and I spelled the critique out in four aspects. The first aspect is, people do accounting, every day, every minute. That's what I'm doing. I'm jumping, I'm trying to explain something to you in a active way in order to engage you. It's accounting work, I present myself, and that's what I also would do in an interview, and that's what you probably also would do. I'm sure you're doing it. So we do accounting all the time. And when we talk about our beliefs, and when we talk about our ideas, or something we witnessed, we're proud of some things and not so proud on other things. So we hide a little bit. We make it a little bit more nice or not. We do accounting work. So if we're doing this, what are we analyzing? A tunnel or an accounted tunnel? So the second critique is, are the observations and interpretations of an interviewee correct anyway? Now, that's an interesting point, because if you say well this accountant work takes place, but what are we accounting for? Are our own observation as interviewees? Correct. Are our own eye witness reports the same as someone else's eye witness report? If you see a car crash and I see a car crash, and we have to tell the police station what happened, are our stories the same or not? The third criticism is on reactivity in the interview. Because the interview itself is a social situation. And you as an interviewee will react on me as an interviewer. I'm active, maybe you'll be active, as well. You think, well, he's from Amsterdam, so he thinks about drugs, something. So you're reacting on me in the interview. So your accounting, your memory's probably not so good. And you are reacting on the interviewer. And then fourthly, there's a more fundamental point. And that is, well, can we grasp external reality language? Can we really grasp emotions in language? Or do we need other forms, theater, dance, and so on? So is an interview, then, the best way to grasp emotions? Maybe not, maybe it is. Or, and let's put it even more fundamental, more on an ontological level, aren't we constructing the social world through language? So in an interview, aren't we totally constructing the world out there rather than describing it? If you followed this critique, then you would come to see the interview in a different way. Not the interview as a tunnel, but more of a topic, the interview as topic. And then, the purpose of the interview is slightly different. Again, it's about as much information as possible, as specific information as possible, and as useful information as possible, but not on something outside the interview. But on the interview itself. An observation of the interview. And usually people describe this and discuss this in two ways. The first way is the interview as an indirect source. So then, you still use it a little bit as a tunnel, but not a complete tunnel. Because what you're looking at is interviewee's talk as accounting behavior. So you look at what is someone is doing in the interview. You look at how people are using certain terms, and definitions, and words. And how people present certain views in the interview itself. Not that they have this view in their head, in their heart, in their history. No, how they present it at that situation. So that's an indirect source. The other use of interview data is, don't look at the interview as interaction. So not how someone presents him or herself, but how this is done in interaction with the interviewer. So then, the interviewer is analyzed as a social event and, most often, this is done with a conversation analytical point of view. So how do people account? How do people place status? How do people repair difficult questions or difficult situations? And so on and so forth. So here, you see that interview as interaction. Well, if you follow this critique, again, you see you look at the interview as a topic. What kind of research question do you pose when you see the interview as a topic? Well, a question like this, how does an interviewee account? It's the behavioral part. The first, the indirect topic. The second part is in interaction with the interviewer, and then you make it into a social event, so you can combine those questions. How does an interviewee account in interaction with the interviewer? Obviously, some people would say that the interview is not only a topic or not only a tunnel. And especially since the mid 1990s, this is called active interview, or active interviewing. And this term was made popular by Gubrium and Holstein. And in a later article they write this, meaning is not constantly formulated anew, but reflects relatively and during local conditions. And what does it mean? It means that in the interview, there is some co-construction taking place, but it relates to something out there. It relates to probably what's in the brain, in the heart, or in the history of someone. So it is partly co-constructed. Co-construction is taking place. And the interviewee and the interviewer are active. But, at the same time, we have to think about those quality criterias and we have to think about good questions and posing good questions, because it's not only a construct of the situation. It's not only in the interview, it also relates to something outside the interview. And that makes an interview such a cool method. Because it's not only about the interaction itself. It's also about what happened outside, or what happens in the brain or in the heart. So we should look at the interview more critically. And if we present the interview as a tunnel and a topic, we pose a question like this. How does an interviewee account in interaction with the interviewer on what? So it's about the how, as well as the what. Now, this makes research questions way more cool and way more interesting, because it's not only about how and what's happening in this little micro-event that the researcher created. Nor is it an unreflexive, well, what I ask you is what happened in reality, it's both.