Week Eight

Ethnographic interview must be competed before Friday, Oct. 22.

There is no writing assignment due this week. Conduct your interview, record it, and take notes.

Here are some general interview tips:

1) Always ask how people define things. Don’t assume that you have the same definitions of ideas or concepts. Before you ask “How did you meet your best friend?” ask “How is your relationship with your best friend different than with your other friends?” or “What makes a best friend your best friend?” or “How do you define ‘best friend’?” Becca asked, “How do you know who your friends are?” which is a spectacular articulation of this.

2) Always ask for details. If they say something general, say “Can you give me an example of that?”

3) Try to use words as neutral as possible. Rather than, say, “What sacrifices do you make?” ask “What tradeoffs do you make?” You do this so that you can leave space for people to articulate opinions that are different than yours or things you’ve never thought of. In general, people tend to like to agree and tell you what they think you want to hear, so you want to give them as little a clue about what that is as you possibly can. Play dumb. Say, “I’m really not sure about this but would be happy to know what you’re thinking about…”

4) Let silence go on longer than you typically do. DO NOT INTERRUPT PEOPLE. Let them think and talk. When they finish saying something, let silence last at least THREE SECONDS – count it out in your head – and most of the time they will start saying something else. They need to believe that you’re not in a hurry. I promise that you will be surprised by how little you talk in your own interview. This is good.