Review Essay: Looking at Interviewing: From "Just Talk" to Meticulous Method

  • Devorah Kalekin-Fishman University of Haifa
Keywords: qualitative research, in-depth interviewing, definitions and structures, acronyms, alternative models, social dialectic


Usually presented as a conglomerate of skill-based procedures, interviewing actually has substantive significance at the heart of the enterprise of the social sciences. That may explain why this most obvious of research methods is still a perennial issue. In the essay, I look at how definitions of interviewing in some well-known manuals link up with recommendations for embedding interviews in research. Recent writing on interviewing shows increasing fragmentation. The method is described differently according to the sociological and psychological domains that use it. In the recent Handbook of qualitative research, interviewing is presented for the most part in relation to usage in life stories, personal experiences, oral history, and counseling, not to mention conversational analysis and discourse analysis. WENGRAF's book takes a new tack in subordinating the different themes that lend themselves to interviewing to a detailed inquiry into the depth interview as a sui generis experience. Aiming to enhance the technical repertoire of the interested professional and the student novice, WENGRAF provides a panoramic view of the many ways in which in-depth interviewing can be conceptualized and realized in action. And in doing so according to the norms that have become familiar in qualitative research, he demonstrates that interviewing is a way of life, that "doing" interviewing is having the privilege of making choices that promote a social dialectic. WENGRAF has produced a textbook that will be of use to many researchers for some time to come. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0204384


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Author Biography

Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, University of Haifa
Devorah KALEKIN-FISHMAN, Dr. Rer. Soc., is a sociologist who initiated the study of qualitative research methods in the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa. Her research interests include the shaping of time and sound in kindergarten socialization, biographical research in sociology, the study of alienation, and the construal and the construction of multi-cultural and inter-cultural education. Recent publications include Biography and the Division of Europe (2000, edited by Roswitha BRECKNER, Devorah KALEKIN-FISHMAN, and Ingrid MIETHE; Opladen: Leske + Budrich), PITKAENEN, Pirkko, KALEKIN-FISHMAN, Devorah & VERMA, Gajendra (Eds.) (2002a). Settlement policies and educational policy in six countries: A comparative study. London: Routledge-Falmer. HAGOEL, Lea & KALEKIN-FISHMAN, Devorah (2002b). Crossing borders: Towards a transdisciplinary scientific identity. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 27(3), 297-308. EDEN, Devorah & KALEKIN-FISHMAN, Devorah (2002c). Teachers: Government officials or professionals with a mission. European Journal for Intercultural Education, Vol. 13(2), 117-136. KALEKIN-FISHMAN, Devorah (forthcoming a). Many ways of construing society: Kelly's person is always social. In Fay FRANSELLA (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Construct Psychology. London: Routledge. KALEKIN-FISHMAN, D. (forthcoming b) Traditionalist education and modern political power in Israel. International Journal of Sociology (special issue edited by Ronald SULTANA & M'hammad SABOUR). In a previous issue of FQS Devorah KALEKIN-FISHMAN wrote a review to David SILVERMAN's Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction (
Methodology and Methods