Email interviewing

Lucy Gibson, Sociology.

In recent years, the internet has become an increasingly popular tool for researching social life. This talk draws on my experience of using e-mail interviews (or asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC)) to research popular music and the life course. Email interviews were particularly well-suited to my study, as they were a good way of producing rich written accounts of participants’ music experiences and memories that recollect long-term involvement in music scenes.

Put very simply, e-mail interviewing refers to conducting interviews via e-mail, asynchronously, which allows the respondent to answer questions at their own pace and over a relatively long period of time (in comparison to traditional interviewing methods). Research participants were given a choice of being interviewed face-to-face or via e-mail and e-mail was favoured by the vast majority of respondents due to its unobtrusive nature and flexibility.

This talk will reflect on the differences between the written and oral account, and focus on the practicalities of conducting email interviews together with a discussion of the advantages and limitations of collecting data via e-mail.

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