The ‘radical critique of interviews’: a response to recent comments

Hammersley, Martyn (2021). The ‘radical critique of interviews’: a response to recent comments. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 24(3) pp. 393–395.



This paper responds to some recent discussions in the Journal about how interview data can be used. While recognising the value of detailed analysis of the discourse employed in interviews to identify its formal features, it is argued that such analysis is not essential for all the purposes for which interview data can be employed in social research; that informal understanding of everyday language use, built up through ordinary experience and during the course of inquiry, can often be relied upon. It is also argued that practical cautions against taking interview data at face value must not be conflated with philosophical doubts about whether interview data can serve as a source of evidence about anything beyond the interview context.

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