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Studying Organizations Using Critical RealismA Practical Guide$
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Paul K. Edwards, Joe O'Mahoney, and Steve Vincent

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665525.001.0001

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Critical Realism and Interviewing Subjects

Critical Realism and Interviewing Subjects

(p.109) 6 Critical Realism and Interviewing Subjects
Studying Organizations Using Critical Realism

Chris Smith

Tony Elger

Oxford University Press

Interviews, the dominant means of accessing information in social research, are not a neutral tool. Rather, there are several approaches, including positivist, constructionist, and realist, to interviewing. The interview process is active, not passive, because understanding the informant’s view of the world requires both parties to bring resources and understanding to the process. Realist interviewing is more than simply recording informants’ theories of the world; capturing their perspectives requires an active engagement between interviewer and interviewee. The interviewer needs to critically evaluate informants’ accounts against their theories, knowledge and understanding. Critical realist interviewing is also concerned to draw on resources and information external to the interview context, in order to scrutinize accounts. This chapter illustrates the application of critical realist analysis to interviews using detailed examples.

Keywords:   constructivist, positivist and realist interviewing, active interviewing, ethnographic interviewing, theory-driven interviewing, reflexivity

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