Nethur School: Qualitative interviewing for political research and policy analysis
Prof. Hendrik Wagenaar, University of Leiden
Hendrik Wagenaar is an associate professor of Public Policy at the Department of Public Administration at Leiden University.
Qualitative interviews are often the most convenient, and frequently the only – source of research data for the majority of PhD students. The quality of the research thus stands or falls with the quality of the interview data. Experience has taught us though, that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about research interviews. Generally our research subjects do not spontaneously provide us with useful interview data. Interviewing is a craft that requires the systematic learning and unlearning of various skills and habits.
This two-day workshop focuses on the actual interviewing process in relation to the analysis of interview data. The workshop is organised along the lines of backward mapping: the logic of qualitative data analysis determines the way questions are asked. The way the interviewer analyses the data and the type of conclusions he or she seeks to draw from them, cannot be viewed in isolation from the way the interview is conducted, and vice versa. The first day focuses on the rationale underlying the interviewing technique. A great deal of attention is paid to the practical strategies the interviewer uses to assure the reliability and validity of interview data. The second day is devoted to an analysis of the interview data collected on the first day, focusing on such questions as: How are raw interview data transformed into analytical categories? How can we generate theoretical insights from interviews? The course practices what it preaches by following the principle of learning-by-doing. Participants will experience the interview process by participating as interviewer and respondent in short training exercises.
This course is intended for graduate students who are engaged in - or plan to engage in - serious qualitative research. The aim of qualitative research is to generate mid-level, grounded theories about substantive areas for the purpose of explaining political or policy processes, or assessing (the outcomes of) of policy interventions. The aim of qualitative research is always to start and maintain a dialogue between data and theory, where preliminary insights guide the selection of data, and empirical data result in new theoretical explanations or the reformulation of existing theories. In this respect, qualitative research is epistemologically neutral. Interpretive strategies that focus on discourse and meaning are equally well suited to a qualitative, grounded theory approach as more objectivist strategies. The aim of qualitative research - and therefore the aim of this course - however, is NOT to verify existing theories or grand theoretical approaches. This course is not for you if you if you are only interested in seeing your favourite theory verified, or if you only are searching for quotes from your research subjects to illustrate your quantitative findings. There are easier ways to achieve these latter goals.
Finally: the number of places is limited. Therefore, do not subscribe if you are not certain that you can participate both days. Maximum number of participants: 10
(All literature must be read in advance!) :
Weiss, R. (1994). Learning from Strangers, The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. The Free Press.
Wagenaar, H. (1996). The well-tempered interviewer. Beleid & Maatschappij, 1996/3: 152-156.
Charmaz, K. (1990) ‘Discovering’Chronic Illness, Using Grounded Theory. Social Science and Medicine, 30, 11: 1161-1172
Date & time
Thursday 11 February 2010: 10:00 – 16:00 hrs
Friday 12 February 2010: 10:00 – 18:00 hrs
Coffee & thee included
Radboud University, Nijmegen. Thomas van Aquinostraat 3, Nijmegen. Room 3.0.27
For information concerning how to get there, click here.
Please send an eMail to Henk-Jan Kooij (firstname.lastname@example.org)