Using the Technology of the Confessional as an Analytical Resource: Four Analytical Stances Towards Research Interviews in Discourse Analysis


  • Brendan K. O'Rourke Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Martyn Pitt Brunel University



discourse analysis, FOUCAULT, technology of the confessional, naturally occurring data, research interviews


Among the various approaches that have developed from FOUCAULT's work is an Anglophone discourse analysis that has attempted to combine FOUCAULTian insights with the techniques of Conversation Analysis. An important current methodological issue in this discourse analytical approach is its theoretical preference for "naturally occurring" rather than research interview data. A FOUCAULTian perspective on the interview as a research instrument, questions the idea of "naturally-occurring discourse". The "technology of the confessional" operates, not only within research interviews, but permeates other interactions as well. Drawing on FOUCAULT does not dismiss the problems of the interview as research instrument rather it shows they cannot be escaped by simply switching to more "natural" interactions. Combining these insights with recent developments within discourse analysis can provide analytical resources for, rather than barriers to, the discourse analysis of research interviews. To aid such an approach, we develop a four-way categorisation of analytical stances towards the research interview in discourse analysis. A demonstration of how a research interview might be subjected to a discourse analysis using elements of this approach is then provided. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs070238


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Author Biographies

Brendan K. O'Rourke, Dublin Institute of Technology

Brendan K. O'ROURKE lectures in economics and strategy at the Faculty of Business, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. He is also pursuing a PhD at Brunel University in the United Kingdom where his research is on discourses of small firm proprietors.

Martyn Pitt, Brunel University

Martyn PITT is Senior Lecturer in strategic management at Brunel University. His primary research interests are in the skills, knowledge and sense-making processes entailed in strategic management, especially in the context of organisational innovation and entrepreneurship. He has co-authored three books on strategy, innovation and small firms as well as being published in a variety of journals including Organization Studies and Strategic Change.




How to Cite

O’Rourke, B. K., & Pitt, M. (2007). Using the Technology of the Confessional as an Analytical Resource: Four Analytical Stances Towards Research Interviews in Discourse Analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(2).