Opportunities and Challenges of Unplanned Follow-up Interviews: Experiences with Polish Migrants in London


  • Louise Ryan Middlesex University
  • Magdalena Lopez Rodriguez
  • Paulina Trevena University of Glasgow




unplanned repeat interviews, reflexivity, presenting the self, migration research


Although there is growing interest in qualitative longitudinal research as a way of taking time seriously (ADAM, 2000), this approach still holds many challenges for the social researcher. In this article we use a reflexive approach, drawing on a Goffmanian analysis of self-presentation, to consider our separate but related experience of re-interviewing Polish migrants over intervals of several years. In each case, the repeat interviews were not part of the original research design and were undertaken years later for a range of different reasons. After briefly presenting case studies from our individual interviews, we critically reflect upon some opportunities and challenges of researching change through time. We first consider the ways in which repeat interviews may challenge earlier analyses and findings. We then explore some of the ethical considerations involved in unplanned repeat interviews. Next, we reflect upon dilemmas about self-revelation, particularly in contexts of social media and on-line technologies. Finally, we discuss what we have learned from our different experiences and what implications there are for this kind of ad hoc longitudinal research in migration studies.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1602266


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Author Biographies

Louise Ryan, Middlesex University

Louise RYAN, Dr., is professor of sociology and co-director of the Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University, London. Her research interests encompass gender, migration, ethnicity, religion and identity, social networks, social movements and transnational families. She teaches research methods and migration. Her most recent book is "Migrant Capital: Networks, Identities and Strategies (2015) co-edited with Umut EREL and Alessio D'ANGELO (Palgrave publishers).

Magdalena Lopez Rodriguez

Magdalena LOPEZ RODRIGUEZ (BA Cultural Anthropology, MA Anthropology of Development, MRes Social and Educational Research, MPhil) is a research fellow currently researching perspectives of Polish migrant mothers on their children's education in the UK as well as Polish immigrant organisations in Ireland. Her research interests focus on analyses of cultural and social capital in migratory situations. She has extensive experience and expertise in qualitative research methods.

Paulina Trevena, University of Glasgow

Paulina TREVENA, Dr., is research associate at the department of Central and East European Studies, University of Glasgow, currently working on a project on Social Security and Migration in Scotland (http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/az/gramnet/research/ssamis/). Her research interests centre on the social world and social position of migrants, and issues relating to labour market positioning, social and occupational mobility, education, and well-being in particular. She has published a number of journal articles and book chapters on these issues.




How to Cite

Ryan, L., Lopez Rodriguez, M., & Trevena, P. (2016). Opportunities and Challenges of Unplanned Follow-up Interviews: Experiences with Polish Migrants in London. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-17.2.2530



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