Wednesday, 9 November 2011

breaking out of the 'interview' paradigm

Following on from my last post, I've got some perspective on my frustrations with aspects of the early 'research conversations' I've been doing. These frustrations, I hasten to add, are not to do with the participants, but more about the nature of the narratives generated, including the visual element I plan.

I think, on reflection, I have been anticipating and evaluating research conversations from a rather 'traditional' interview paradigm, in which (amongst other things):

  • I focus on the audio 'product' of the session.
  • I look for sections of speech that validate my theoretical frame.
  • I focus on the 'correct' way to approach an 'interview'.
  • I don't recognise how my investment into these interviews changes my behaviour and expectations.

Instead, through chatting with my second supervisor, I want to get back to a view of encounters with participants that is more about:

  • Seeing the process as a more open process of discovery and creation, with the possibility of 'things not being as I saw them'.
  • The 'product' not so much being an accurate historical record as a text (Ricoeur, 1992) which is something new, perhaps part fictional but all about their meaning making nevertheless.
  • Worrying less about 'corrupting' the pure stories presented by participants, but being bold enough to try co-construction, all the time being explicit about respective roles in building narratives.

Practically, my methodology needs a revisit to bring it in line with my original aspirations, and to break out of limiting traditional conventions that won't help me look at meaning making and relationships with reference points.  I'm thinking that in addition to sending participants the traditional transcript of the session (which in turn may change their view of, and approach to their narrative) I want to, in the second session, provide them with a storyboard of key moments or scenes we discussed in relation to their professional identity.

I am hoping that doing this will:

  • Be bold enough to work with the concept that 'the text' is becoming something new, that this is not just a historical transcript or factual account.
  • Provoke responses of either convergence or divergence between myself and the participants, symbolic 'spaces' if you like within which to discuss their meaning making.
  • Begin to place the visual at the centre, rather the periphery of the session (at the moment it is my own rather linear 'place marking' tool, signifying things I think are significant) - building narrative around the storyboard as presented.

What could happen if I and participants annotate these storyboards? Could this provide some critical 'distance' from these narratives? Might it be just what is needed to really own the process of co-construction?
Perhaps this is what the process of discovery is like, it's just that when the pressure is on, the temptation to be 'safe' is huge. I want to resist that, not just so I can be 'creative' or visual for its own sake, but so I can reflect my view of what I think these narratives are and what the process of sensemaking is. Annotated storyboards here we come?