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The research Interviewer as a Traveler (Kvale, 1996)

Thursday, May 31st, 2007 @ 12:34 am
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Posted in  Methodology

After so many prompts from my supervisor I starter reading again an excellent book: Kvale, S. (1996) InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage…what an excellent companion really! I found this metaphor of the ‘interviewer as traveler’ ( in contrast to the metaphor of interviewer as miner)in there which so much fits with my research topic. Kvale writes (p. 4-5):

“The traveler metaphor understands the interviewer as a traveler on a journey that leads to a tale to be told upon returning home. The interviewer-traveler wanders through the landscape and enters into conversations with the people encountered. The traveler explores the many domains of the country, as unknown territory or with maps, roaming freely around the territory. The traveler may also deliberately seek specific sites or topics by following a method , with the original Greek meaning of ‘a route that leads to the goal’. The interviewer wanders along with the local inhabitants, asks questions that lead the subjects to tell their own stories of their lived world, and converses with them in the original Latin meaning of conversation as ‘wandering together with’.

What the travelling reporter hears and sees is described qualitatively and reconstructed as stories to be told to the people of the interviewer’s own country, and possibly also to those with whom the interviewer wandered. The potentialities of meanings in the original stories are differentiated and unfolded through the traveler’s interpretations; the tales are remolded into new narratives, which are convincing in their aesthetic form andare valuable through their impact upon the listeners.

The journey may not only lead to new knowledge; the traveler might change as well. The journey might instigate a process of reflection that leads the interviewer to new ways of self-understanding, as well as uncovering previously taken-for-granted values and customs in the traveler’s home country. Through conversations, teh traveler can also lead others to new understanding and insight as they, through their own story-telling, may come to reflect on previously natural-seeming matters of course in their culture”


“the traveler metaphor refers to a postmodern constructive understanding that involves a conversational approach to social research”…”it brings interviews into the vicinity of humanities and art”

Wow…the above definitelly represents a compass for my own research journey…i couldnt have found more succint words for it, thank you Kvale!

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