Lecture: Ethnographic Interview

Learning objectives:

  1. To learn how to carry out a research interview.
  2. To learn how to ask descriptive/ethnographic questions.
  3. To learn how to organize data collection

Inter + View

Traditional Interview is a way to understand and gather data on a specific context; a one-on-one question and answer session.  Very similar to Contextual Inquiry, except without the work-based context.

Interview Techniques

Successful techniques for interviewing include:

Ethnographic Interview*

As anthropologist Michael Agar (1980) has described, in an informal interview “everything is negotiable”. Ethnographic interviews are less formal and less interviewer-driven than traditional interview formats. This informality doesn’t mean ethnographers don’t prepare for interviews. Ethnographers plan questions and develop interview protocols to make sure that the interview flows.
To learn more about ethnographic approach to interview, please check these two articles. They offer insights into the ethnographic elements of asking descriptive questions and a variety of questions organized by type.

Interview Protocol

Here is an example of interview protocol i have used when i conducted my earlier exploratory research on participatory cultural planning and mapping.

Interview Protocol (SAMPLE)

Informed Consent Form

The following is a sample consent form for a research project. The interviewer should  have the interviewee read this form and ask any questions the interviewee may have. Before the interview can start, the researcher and the interviewee should sign two copies of this form. The interviewee will be given one copy of the signed form.

Informed Consent Form (SAMPLE)

In-class Activity

Working with your research partner, draft your ethnographic questions to ask the people you will interview next time. To help you organize your thoughts please use the Data Planning Worksheet as a guide for your process.

Mid-Term Review Session

Students will have one-on-one review session to discuss their learning progress.

Mid-term Review Sheet

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