Reproducing or constructing? Some questions about transcription in social research

Hammersley, Martyn (2010). Reproducing or constructing? Some questions about transcription in social research. Qualitative Research, 10(5) pp. 553–569.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794110375230

Abstract

Audio- and video-recordings are a major source of data in qualitative research today. There is now a substantial literature about the task of transcribing these recordings, though this mainly relates to linguistic and discourse analysis. In general, this takes the view that transcripts construct the talk or action that they portray rather than reproducing what is given. In this article I argue that while this is true in important respects, in that many decisions are involved in producing transcripts, there is also an important sense in which both the strict transcription of words used and the descriptions of speakers' behaviour are aimed at capturing something that exists independently of the transcription process. 'Construction' and 'givenness' are both metaphors and we need to be careful not to be misled by either of them.

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