5th Sep, 2009
Interviewing is not an inborn skill. This skill can be trained. An interviewer’s relationship to the data of interview could be in two ways.
1. The interviewer has a slavish relationship to the data. The data is considered as gospel truth and unchangeable.
2. Data is ,manipulated’
In the second category Interviews can be considered under two categories
1. Modern: interview as a discourse. The data is considered as resource. This is a seamless narrative.
2. Post modern: here the data is taken as a topic and a position and the interviwer challenges sometimes the interviewee.
In post modern interviews the data is constructed by both the interviewee and the interviewer. In the post modern interviews the pauses and delays are deleted, even the location of the interview which forms an important role in identifying the power bargains between the interviewee and the interviewer. Postmodern interviews are also self reflective i.e. being aware of the manipulations that both groups make in the data.
The classification as modern and postmodern are more applicable to the reports of the interviews than to the process of interview itself.
Post modernism is a condition
Post-structuralism is a theory of reading.
The method of the post structuralist
The process of the post structuralist is a decentring the other. Derrida decentres for the purpose of decentring, not for creating another centre.
Derrida says that there are some centres which give meaning for the rest. E.g. God. All the rest levels of gradation downward, man, animal, plant etc.. get a meaning on the basis of this centre. God here is known as the transcendental signified. This centre is outside the system of meanings. It is absent. This is the absent centre. Another example. Christ University. It gives a meaning to everything inside it. Now if you remove the students, it still is the university, the chancellor is moved still it is a university. Etc..... These are constructs. If they are constructed they can be deconstructed.
In the case of an interviewee and interviewed, the process of construction is a self reflective. Post modern interview is a self reflective act. Whereas in modern interviews the process of the interview is absent while it is reported. It does not speak about where the interview is held. In whose territory? The interviewees or interviewed. If neutral spaces are chosen as the locus of interview it will create its own meaning and spaces.
Interviews in English Studies
Interviews have not been taken seriously in English studies as a serious process for creative and research writings, although creative writers have been using such interviews for their resources.
The interviews can have different dimensions
Based on number of people
1. One to one interview
2. One to many (Focus Group Discussion. This group discusses on one topic)
3. Many to many? Is it possible simultaneously
2. Semi structured
1. interviewer’s place,
2. interviewees and
4. face to face
In the interviews we do an elimination test for the one to many interviews. In the elimination test you choose the inclined and the less inclined. Accordingly you eliminate or group the interviewees.
Unstructured: There is hardly any unstructured interview because you know how to begin and end. That is to say some sort of structure underlies the interviews. However, in unstructured interviews, the interviewer asks the subsequent questions based on the previous answer. These are very deep interviewees.
The interviewers are not always in control of the interviews, sometimes the interviewee is able to highjack the interviews to their perspectives.
(The content of this section is the class note of Jijo, on Pinto’s regular lectures to II MA English students in Christ University Bangalore on 5th and 8th September, 2009.