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Über dieses Buch

This book offers practical advice on designing, conducting and analyzing interviews with ‘elite’ and ‘expert’ persons (or ‘socially prominent actors’), with a focus on criminology and criminal justice. It offers dilemmas and examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ practices in order to encourage readers to critically asses their own work. It also addresses methodological issues which include: access, power imbalances, getting past ‘corporate answers’, considerations of whether or not it is at times acceptable to ask leading questions and whether to enter a discussion with a respondent at all. This book will be valuable to students and scholars conducting qualitative research.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
This section introduces readers to the goals of the book and its main working premises. Drawing on the body of literature on the so-called elite and expert interviews (EEI), the book addresses methodological challenges and offers ‘tips & tricks’ in interviewing a wide range of actors relevant to criminology and related social sciences. We particularly discuss interviewing the powerful on sensitive topics and why qualitative research with such actors requires specific methodological sensitivity. The introduction states the authors’ epistemological positioning toward the production of knowledge; it presents the book’s general structure and specific features, such as the use of text boxes drawn from recent empirical research as lively illustrations. Moreover, it highlights some of the ethical, methodological, topical and positional particularities, which will be addressed in the remaining chapters of the book.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Chapter 2. Interviewing ‘the Powerful’ in Crime and Crime Control

Abstract
The chapter enters conceptual discussions on the notions of ‘the powerful’, ‘elites’ and ‘experts’. It discusses what makes elite and expert interviewing specific and why researchers would be interested in conducting qualitative interviews with the powerful, particularly within the study area of criminology. Simultaneously, the chapter highlights how the book intends to overcome a lack of systematic methodological reflection on using interviews with the powerful, when asking them about sensitive issues. The chapter underscores the importance of fostering critical, reflexive and ethical attitudes throughout the entire research process.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Chapter 3. Interview Models and Researcher’s Self-Positioning

Abstract
This chapter presents several interview models that can be applied while conducting interviews with the powerful. ‘Informal’ interviewing that often takes place in ethnographic contexts is outlined, as well as the ‘classical’ doxastic interviewing. We then move on to more specific interview models, such as the ‘looking glass’ model, where researcher positions herself or himself as a peer or even as a co-expert, ‘epistemic interviews’, which probe into the foundation for the judgments about situations, and ‘active’ interviewing models, in which the researcher assumes a rather critical role. All of these models will be discussed according to the type of knowledge they generate, interviewer’s self-positioning, the nature of interview interactions and interviewing styles.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Chapter 4. Their Reign, Their Game? Accessing the Powerful

Abstract
The chapter delves into practical issues of respondent selection, and of finding and accessing expert and elite participants for research interviews. It discusses powerful participants’ specificities and offers solutions for improving the chances of generating samples of respondents and collecting high-quality data. After addressing sampling techniques, it discusses (gaining and maintaining) access, including formal permissions and informal ways of contacting people; the role of gatekeepers; making your way through formal and informal hierarchies; ways of communicating with elites and experts, managing limited time frames, as well as presenting yourself and the research. Furthermore, the chapter discusses ethics and discretion while getting and maintaining access, especially informed consent, anonymity, recording the interview, transparency regarding the researcher’s role and goals.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Chapter 5. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Abstract
In this chapter, we try to help the reader find the necessary balance between openness and preparedness. Therefore, we offer practical tips for constructing interview protocols and topic lists as well as probing. Moreover, in interviewing the powerful, the interviewer is expected to be up to date and acquainted with different institutional, national or local realities, different practices and jargon. Hence, in addition to preparation for the interviews in terms of constructing topic lists, this chapter sheds light on exploring the setting.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Chapter 6. Conducting the Interview

Abstract
This chapter presents practical clues and special considerations when conducting interviews with elites and experts, especially on sensitive topics including crime and crime control. We discuss the course of the interview and ways to improve the quality of the data collected. Dimensions covered here range from how to build interaction with interviewees; how to gain trust and establish rapport; power negotiations; managing impressions; maintaining control of the interview and avoiding ‘standard corporate answers’; dealing with participants’ questions and assumptions about researchers’ own knowledge and views; asking about sensitive topics; and the physical interview setting. As in other chapters, we offer ethical reflections, especially in relation to confidentiality and anonymity of participants. Lastly, online interviewing, which may prove especially useful for elite and expert participants, is addressed.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Chapter 7. Making Sense of the Data

Abstract
Specificities regarding interviewing the powerful do not end once the recorder is switched off. They persist when making sense of qualitative data, reflecting on potential drawbacks of strategies used, and when presenting research results. Therefore, this chapter provides an overview of specific attention points while analyzing EEI. We discuss topics such as: coding and transcribing; the relevance of considering the researcher as a situated actor, encouraging self-reflexivity and being explicit about self-positioning toward powerful actors; quality control, especially regarding authenticity, transparency, consistency and data and researcher triangulation; ethical concerns; and the issue of getting back to the participants after data collection.
Olga Petintseva, Rita Faria, Yarin Eski

Backmatter

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