Accepted Paper:

The subjectivities of 'the interview' considered in a grammatical light  


Adrian Davis (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

Paper short abstract:

For those disciplinary stakeholders involved in realigning the epistemological framework of ‘the interview’, one could do far worse than reprise the illuminating ‘clinical’ experiences of the maverick anti-psychiatrist R D Laing. In particular, his crucial insight that ‘The 'data' (given) of research are not so much given as taken out of a constantly elusive matrix of happenings. We should speak of capta rather than data’ (Laing 1973).

Paper long abstract:

This paper will draw for its critical import on what it takes to be the central epistemological difficulties that it finds implicit in Laing's otherwise insightful remark. The author holds that for the most part, in some form or other, these difficulties are endemic to most approaches to 'the interview'. My preliminary interests are to make these difficulties explicit, and then assessing what that entails for a more devolved and contemporaneous discussion on the merits of 'the interview' conceived of as an 'imagined space'. In essence, the author will aver that whilst Laing's constructivist epistemology is now typically commonplace and readily understood, in the 'Diaspora' of eclectic and normative approaches in the social sciences; serious difficulties still persist. In short, these methodological insights have done little to unburden the interviewer and interviewee of the perennial problems of what is typically viewed as the inevitable subjectivities or objectivities of testimony. In short, the invidious 'outer' and 'inner' of anthropological discourse continues to evade proper philosophical closure to the overall detriment of the discipline as a whole. My paper address this difficulty of the 'objective' and the 'subjective' intruding on our methodologies, through considering its continuing grip on our thinking, as arising very much out of our ordinary language, and as such, being very much a grammatical problem that is readily enough 'dissolved' if one takes certain practical steps .

Panel P15
Roundtable - Situating the interview