The science and art of interviewing

Kathleen Gerson, Sarah Damaske

Research output: Book/ReportBook

58 Scopus citations


Qualitative interviewing is one of the most widely used methods in social research, but it is arguably the least well understood. To address that gap, this book offers a theoretically rigorous, empirically rich, and user-friendly set of strategies for conceiving and conducting interview-based research. Much more than a how-to manual, the book shows why depth interviewing is an indispensable method for discovering and explaining the social world-shedding light on the hidden patterns and dynamics that take place within institutions, social contexts, relationships, and individual experiences. It offers a step-by-step guide through every stage in the research process, from initially formulating a question to developing arguments and presenting the results. To do this, the book shows how to develop a research question, decide on and find an appropriate sample, construct an interview guide, conduct probing and theoretically focused interviews, and systematically analyze the complex material that depth interviews provide-all in the service of finding and presenting important new empirical discoveries and theoretical insights. The book also lays out the ever-present but rarely discussed challenges that interviewers routinely encounter and then presents grounded, thoughtful ways to respond to them. By addressing the most heated debates about the scientific status of qualitative methods, the book demonstrates how depth interviewing makes unique and essential contributions to the research enterprise. With an emphasis on the integral relationship between carefully crafted research and theory building, the book offers a compelling vision for what the “interviewing imagination” can and should be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages280
ISBN (Electronic)9780199324286
StatePublished - Nov 19 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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