Troubling Interviews

First off, I really like what Jordan had to say about “harvarding”. My lit background really influences the way I read things (which is usually too closely), and I have a hard time taking a step back just to skim aspects of the articles that I might find useful. DEFINITELY something that I need to work on! That being said I thought that the articles for this week were pretty helpful in terms of outlining different methods for gathering qualitative data, although I am not really sure how much I am going to be able to use these methods in my own research.

I can’t really believe that our SSHRC assignment is due in a week. I’ve been looking at different notes I’ve made, and some of the Luker assignments, as well as some of the “literature” I have read, and am struggling with putting it in a cohesive format. I have narrowed my topic down to focus on how various institutions (including U of T) have scrapped digitization efforts in the last few years because of how expensive, and time consuming the process is, and I would like to explore methods that might be more efficient/economical/realistic for digitizing rare collections especially at U of T. Or something. Will take some more time tweaking it over Thanksgiving I guess – but any thoughts/suggestions are appreciated!

Also, I found the Ellen Seiter article “Making Distinctions in TV Audience Research: Case Study of a Troubling Interview” kind of strange. I intended only to harvard it, but once I started I needed to see where it was going. I cannot really explain what about the article that unsettles me, but I feel like the way she presented the two men that she interviewed really perpetuates some of the biases she is meant to be lobbying against. I think that if any of you are planning on doing interviews (or I guess just suggesting that you would do them since we’re not actually doing the research) than this is a worthwhile read – if only to point out what to avoid.

See you guys tomorrow!


3 thoughts on “Troubling Interviews

  1. eleigh66

    I like the idea of your topic. I would try to maybe narrow it down to one or maybe two alternatives so that you are not getting bogged down with loads of research material to wade through. The best way I’ve found to help figure out my question is to keep writing it out in different ways as a how and what question. It allows you to look at which components or words keep reoccurring in each of your forms of questions. I also cannot believe the SSRCH assignment is due in a week, talk about freaking out!

    -Emma Blackburn

  2. miloanderson

    Since you mention it, that Ellen Seiter article really bugged me, too. After reading the actual interview transcript at the end, I don’t think it’s at all clear that those two men were trying to impress their interviewers. It’s just as likely they were trying to entertain their guests with what, to them, was interesting conversation. Maybe it strikes a nerve with me because I’m the first member of my immediate family to go to college. Ms. Seiter also reminds me of a few people I’ve encountered over the years who never tired of talking about race and class, but as soon as it stopped being an abstraction they revealed themselves as having no empathy whatsoever.

    On the other hand, it’s definitely good to consider how we as researchers will affect the subjects we interview (assuming that’s the methodology we go with). It’s something I’ve been wrestling with, as my topic is climate change denial and mass communication. It’s a charged issue for a lot of people, and I need to bear in mind that any hint of polemics could drive the thing right off the rails.

    Have you found any promising articles concerning digitization? My problem so far is too many promising articles. I’m not sure at what point I can draw the line and say I’ve researched enough.

  3. Brett Phillipson

    After reading this post and the comments, I just had to see what was up with that article (I usually only do the required readings, because I am a terrible student). After reading it, I have to say I agree with everything that has been said here so far. While it was certainly an interesting read, I don’t really have anything nice to say about the author or the way she presented the interview and its participants. I was quite shocked by her portrayal of “Mr. Howe” in particular – calling him a “crackpot”, repeatedly indicating how she and her fellow researcher had been unamused by his jokes and uninterested in his stories, etc. I also also struck by the irony of someone who identifies as a Marxist and claims to be interested in a critical analysis of class ignored or dismissed the voices and opinions of actual working-class people in favour of quoting Bourdieu and pontificating about her own theories and experiences. As a feminist, I also expected to be at least somewhat sympathetic towards her feelings of discomfort with regards to gender, but honestly, I have no idea why she felt uncomfortable, and particularly why she found that so notable or, in her words, “troubling”. The interviewees did come across as somewhat sexist, the way a lot of old white guys tend to be sexist. There was potential for some analysis on gender lines, I guess, but Seiter was too busy being condescending to actually attempt it.

    Like I said, I really have nothing nice to say.


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