|Author(s)||Francesca Alby, Marilena Fatigante|
|Title||Preserving the respondent’s standpoint in a research interview: Different strategies of ‘doing’ the interviewer|
Much has been written on the respondent’s perspective but fewer studies have recognized that “perspectives other than those drawn from the discipline come into play for the interviewer” (Warren in Handbook of interview research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2002: 84). In the article we show that the interviewer uses different strategies of identity management and different standpoints as resources to accomplish and account for one of the main interviewer’s duties, namely to achieve an “understanding of the world from the subjects’ points of view” (Kvale in Interviews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1996: 1). We examine instances in which the interviewer displays a “neutral” posture, showing adherence to her institutional identity, and instances in which she positions herself as an “embodied subject,” disclosing her personal involvement, stepping out of the role and displaying an identity and a standpoint in common with that of the interviewee. We show how such strategies of identity management (1) prompt either identification or divergence of viewpoints between the interviewer and the interviewees; (2) affect the degree of intimacy among participants and spontaneity in conversation. By means of these two strategies, we discuss, the interviewer accomplishes and accounts for her professional ability to understand the interviewees’ standpoints. In particular such strategies are two ways of accounting for an ethical relationship with the interviewees, which, respectively, emphasize either the impartiality or the reciprocity in understanding. Our purpose is not to suggest that one strategy is to be preferred on the other, but, rather, to illustrate how both the “neutral” and the “embodied” posture are situated practices through which the interviewer attempts to preserve the respondents’ viewpoint on the narrated events.