Mann, S. (2010). Critical Review of Qualitative Interviews in Applied Linguistics (Summary)

Mann’s goal in this article is to describe different perspectives of interview methodology that could be utilized for applied linguistic research. From the fields of sociology, anthropology, and psychology, Mann identifies four discursive dilemmas that could aid in more reflective qualitative research. According to Mann, considering such dilemmas is central to good interviewer sensitivity. The first of these discursive dilemmas is co-construction. This is a dilemma because rather than an interview being a report of data, it is an action of creating the account between the interviewer and interviewee. The focus on the interviewer refers to the position of the researcher in context of the process, and their personal empathy and emotions. The interactional context of an interview is important, as interviews cannot be taken as real accounts of information. Each interview has followed a process, including actions before and after that will influence how the participant shares their data. Finally, Mann’s last discursive dilemma is a focus on what and how. The dilemma here is how to best illuminate the research process (the how) along with the interview data (the what). Personally, I would also add the dilemma of motivation, since everyone involved in the research process will have different goals for being there. Mann also outlines some parameters of sensitivity, that are intended to guide researchers to become aware of discursive dilemmas. Mann stresses that many researchers tend to fall into these dilemmas unknowingly. By choosing quotes to aid in research goals, researchers leave out most of the data. Transcripts can be included to help circumvent this issue, so that future researchers may use the same data to draw different interpretations.

Mann, S. (2010). Critical Review of Qualitative Interviews in Applied Linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 32(1), 6–24.

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