Sin, C. 2003. “Interviewing in ‘Place’: The Socio-Spatial Construction of Interview Data.”

Sin, Chi Hoong. 2003. “Interviewing in ‘Place’: The Socio-Spatial Construction of Interview Data.” Area 35(3): 305-312.

“The intersubjective dialogic exercise through which identities and knowledge are constructed exists in a dialectic relation with the ‘place’ of the interview” (302) – translated: Identities that are offered in interviews are constructed in relation to the environment where the interview takes place. Interview sites can impact how research participants construct individual/social identities as well as how the dynamics under which interviews take place.

Interviewing critiqued for cultivating passivity in knowledge creation; however, interviews are “interactional, reflexive, and intersubjective” (see Denzin 1978). Spatial metaphors used to parse out power relationships amongst interviewer/interviewee, ie – positionality, situatedness, inside/outside, field/nonfield, etc. The desire of participants and researchers to “place” one another during interviews (Phoniex 1994) – where one sources, belonging – in effort to build/reduce rapport. New notions of “betweenness” –compared to inside/outside- (Katz 1992) where all involved can explore reflexively and dialogically. Feminist research as prompting of qualitative research and use of intersubjectivity.
The socio-spatial dialectic (Lefebvre 1991; Soja 1980), however, posits that space ‘. . . is both the product of, and mediator between, social relations … simultaneously contingent and conditioning, outcome and medium, product and premise’ (Knox 1991, 192).

Interview sites create “micro-geographies” where meanings, spatial and social relations intersect to frame interview (Elwood and Martin 2000). Based on locations, environment – participants may choose to reveal select/multiple/contradictory elements of themselves or perform a particular way – due to confidentiality fears, norms of appropriateness, etc.
Likewise, participants may lead interviewers (through interview) to notice particular elements of the environment that may not have previously been research/emotionally significant – shapes interviewer’s perception, analysis, potentially types or tones of questions ask. Impacted by people around, others’ interactions, interviewer’s/participants’ assumptions about knowledge bases/cultural knowing,
Power is not held in single sites, but multiple sites – culture is built not in the case study but in the macro.

Denzin, N. K. 1978. The research act: a theoretical introduction to sociological methods McGraw-Hill, New York.
Elwood, S A and Martin D G 2000 ‘Placing’ interviews: loca tion and scales of power in qualitative research Profes sional Geographer 52 649-5 7
Katz, C 1992 All the world is staged: intellectuals and the projects of ethnography Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10 495-510.
Knox, P 1991 The restless urban landscape: economic and sociocultural change and the transformation of metropolitan Washington, DC Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81 181-209
Lefebvre, H 1991 The production of space Blackwell, Oxford
Phoenix A 1994 Practising feminist research: the intersection of gender and ‘race’ in the research process in Maynard M and Purvis J eds Researching women’s lives from a feminist perspective Taylor and Francis, London 49-71
Soja, E 1980 The socio-spatial dialectic Annals of the Association of American Geographers 70 207-25


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