- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc; 2nd edition (August 19, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0761920757
- ISBN-13: 978-0761920755
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data 2nd Edition
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"The authors closely follow how interviews are developed, varied out, and analyzed. If you were to buy one [book], I would suggest the Rubin and Rubin because of the wealth of detain on interviewing- the main source of research data for technical communicators." (Tom Warren Books Reviews)
About the Author
Irene S. Rubin is Professor Emeritus of Public Administration at Northern Illinois University. She is the author of Running in the Red: The Political Dynamics of Urban Fiscal Stress, Shrinking the Federal Government, Class Tax and Power: Municipal Budgeting in the United States, and Balancing the Federal Budget: Eating the Seed Corn or Trimming the Herds, all four of which rely extensively on qualitative interviews. She has written journal articles about citizen participation in local level government in Thailand, how universities adapt when their budgets are cut, and fights between legislative staffers and elected and appointed officials about unworkable policy proposals, all based on qualitative interviews. She is in the middle of an interviewing project about how local officials view and use contracts with the private sector and with other governmental units to provide public services.
Herbert J. Rubin is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of Applied Social Research and (with Irene Rubin) four editions of Community Organizing and Development. He has written articles based on in-depth interviewing that explore rural development in Thailand, suburban land-use fights, cooperative housing and economic and community development. Both his monograph on Thailand, The Dynamics of Development in Rural Development and his book on community renewal in the United States, Renewing Hope within Neighborhoods of Despair: The Community-based Development Model, are based on participant observation and hundreds of in-depth interviews. He is currently using open ended in depth interviews as well as participant observation to study organizations that advocate for the poor.
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Top Customer Reviews
Having published many books and articles that rely on in-depth, qualitative interviewing, Professors Emeriti Herbert and Irene Rubin (husband and wife) have written a third edition of their book, Qualitative Interviewing: The art of hearing data. This edition had been cited 8,381 times on Google Scholar and 3,359 times on ERIC at the time of this writing. Rubin and Rubin state that with the book, they wanted to share their model of responsive interviewing (hereafter RI), and to share the "exhilaration" they have felt as they used the techniques.
Overview of the Chapters
To help readers appreciate and understand the history from which the authors developed their RI technique, they provide an overview of the various perspectives and approaches in research, giving a history of positivism and its descendants, and compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative paradigms. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss the strengths of in-depth interviewing, highlight differences between it and everyday conversations. They describe how the RI model fits in with the two major social research paradigms (positivism vs. naturalism). In Chapter 3 the authors more thoroughly define RI. It is characterized by a respectful relationship of trust, a supportive tone, flexible design and questions. It accepts the complexity and ambiguity of life, and that researchers' and conversational partners' personalities will influence the interviews. They also discuss naturalistic data-gathering techniques.
Chapters 4 and 5 discuss designing research for quality, using the RI model. Chapters 6 and 7 discusses building and maintaining conversational partnerships. Researchers should begin by examining themselves and their own biases. RI uses and extends skills from quotidian conversations. Chapters 8 through 10 discuss the structure of the RI: main questions, probes, and follow-ups, and what to consider while writing them. The authors describe four patterns of interviews to help researchers balance the RI structure in different scenarios.
In Chapter 11, added for this edition, Rubin and Rubin impart their wisdom regarding coping with interviewing in unusual circumstances (e.g.: cross-cultural, cross-language, and multiparty interviews) and with specialized populations (e.g. technical experts, elites, prisoners, the elderly, and children). Chapter 12 takes readers through the multi-iterative data analysis process, from transcription through coding, sorting, weighing and integrating, generating a theory, and generalizing findings. Chapter 13 discusses sharing the results through various forms of publication. They end the book with their reflections on how working with RI has impacted them, particularly the joy it has brought them.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This book has many strengths, and the one that stands out most is both authors' combined wealth of experience. Readers of this book get access to the combined (and collaborated) wisdom, experience, and advice of two highly respected researchers. Rubin and Rubin frequently illustrate their points with anecdotes from their decades of research. In this way, the authors practice what they preach regarding establishing credibility: they use the data to support the major conclusions, and logically lead the reader to the same conclusion that the authors made. Readers may get qualitative data-gathering experience of their own as they read the collection of anecdotes, in addition to being able to learn directly from Rubin and Rubin's imparted wisdom and advice. The authors mention problems and challenges commonly encountered, and usually follow up immediately with a way to address or ameliorate the problems. Additionally, the authors often offer snippets of dialogue that prospective interviewers might use, such as to make a transition, to broach a touchy subject, or to ask for clarification. These aren't provided to put words in the student's mouth, but to give concrete examples especially where further description about the technique would not be helpful. The lines have presumably worked for Rubin and Rubin, but can be adapted to one's own style and scenario. Perhaps therefore the strengths of the book could be subsumed under one heading: applicable wisdom.
This 256-page volume stands ready for classroom use, complete with references, and indices by author and subject. Important terms are bolded next to their in-text definitions. Its tone in the second person maintains an accessible conversation with the reader. The book is written for novice qualitative researchers, but journalists-in-training could also benefit. Its wealth of advice from two seasoned professionals also makes it noteworthy for experienced researchers who wish to do (more) responsive interviewing in their studies. In the third edition Rubin and Rubin have included even more of their own anecdotes, while still incorporating the existing literature. Those stories, the new Chapter 11, plus the 2012 discussion on computer-assisted qualitative data analysis make the 3rd edition superior to the 2nd.
The book is gender-aware and seems to be gender-balanced, offering both Irene's and Herb's viewpoints on a given topic. One chapter states that women are more likely to give two messages at the same time. Another points out that men and women may think of marriage differently (responsibilities and sexual intimacy vs. emotional support and communication), and therefore should be coded separately.
The book certainly achieved the first of its aims. Rubin and Rubin shared thoroughly detailed information about the RI technique, why to do it, how to go about it, and what to expect. I felt like I vicariously added to my own journalistic interviewing experience. They achieved the second objective, but therein lies my only complaint. They took too long to get to openly sharing the joy of RI. They hinted at it in the Preface, and then the exhilaration got put on hold for the lesson on the history of research paradigms. They waited to open the gates until Chapter 14. I wanted to be sold earlier and more often on the joy of doing RI, so I wish they had included it more strongly during the body. Perhaps it could have been woven into more chapter introductions and/or conclusions. Still, this was a minor drawback. I enjoyed reading the book, and I highly recommend it.
A difficult aspect of any "informational" interview is to keep the proceedings non-mechanical. Where to inject humour? When to...take a break. How to "take notes" without arousing suspiciousness in the transaction. How to stay in control...manage the situation...without the power play anticipated by the interviewee.
The authors are not pontificating for the benefit of those behind the desk, they are employing global research for the benefit of "give and take", between he/she behind the desk *and* at its' front.
In the age of "bullet points" and endless lists we have something to engage those who want to keep it professional...and personable.
Letter-boxed Tables and Examples are helpful, not excluding the Dialogue guides.