The ethnographic interview

Authored by: Anna De Fina

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



This chapter describes the use of interviews as a method for data collection in linguistic ethnography. It provides an account of the history of interviews, locating their origin as a tool in sociology and survey research, while qualitative and ethnographic interviews were developed particularly in anthropology and in Chicago School sociology. The chapter argues that the interpretive turn in the 1980s and 1990s led to expansion in the use of qualitative interviews in social sciences in general. It goes on to describe some of the debates around the use of interviews in linguistics and anthropology, including challenges around the role of the interviewer, the relationship between interviewer and informants, and the legitimacy of interview as a tool for understanding human behaviour. These debates are located in relation to broader historical developments of research paradigms, away from predominantly positivist frameworks. Recent ethnographic work in sociocultural linguistics which has drawn in part on interview data is described. The chapter underlines the importance of interviews as a form of triangulation in ethnographic research, while at the same time emphasising their co-constructed nature and highlighting the importance of interviewer reflexivity.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.