Before, During, and After: Identity and the Social Construction of Knowledge in Qualitative Research Interviews

  • Peter Michael Yates


After outlining briefly some of the key ideas in symbolic interactionist theories of self, this article will reflect on the author’s experiences of interviews during a Research Interviews course and the impact of identity before, during and after the interview. It will argue that a symbolic interactionist view of self and identity is useful for understanding the nature of knowledge produced in research interviews but this needs to be complemented by a Foucauldian understanding of power. It will conclude that combining these two perspectives allows us to see that simplistic notions of reflexivity, which consider only the impact of the identity of the researcher on the research process, are inadequate. Instead we need to understand that the identities of the researcher and the respondents, and the research process itself, are all in a dynamic and mutually influencing relationship with each other.


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