Method noting its suitability for “providing in-depth information about

Method
2 – How slum tourists interpret narratives of poverty: Semi-structured
interviewing

 

(Make
sure this matches with research objectives)

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It
should be noted that whilst participant observation would be a useful method in
eliciting how slum tour operators construct imaginaries and narratives of
poverty, it would be methodologically less applicable when focussing on how
slum tourists interpret these socially-constructed narratives. Furthermore, Ho
(2006) advocates methodological triangulation, or the integration of various
qualitative methods, noting its suitability for “providing in-depth information about participants’ inner values and
beliefs” (ibid:11). In the context of this research project, the
triangulation of participant observation with semi-structured interviewing
would enable the researcher to investigate both how the politics of
representation and interpretation influence slum tourists’ perceptions of
poverty. In addition, Rhodes (2017) notes that interviewing fills knowledge
gaps which participant observation is unable to ‘bridge’. As a result of this,
the second series of methods I would use in this research project is the
semi-structured interviewing of slum tourists which would help produce richer
data and to validate the research findings (Alshenqeeti, ref). This would
enable the researcher to focus on the politics of interpretation by eliciting
how slum tourists interpret imaginaries of poverty constructed on a slum tour.

 

Cohen
et al (2007) assert that interviewing is “a
valuable method for exploring the construction and negotiation of meanings”
(ibid, 29). In this way, interviewing possesses a particularly privileged
position within the qualitative paradigm as it enables interviewees to express
their own opinions and sentiments freely (Berg, 2007 – in Alshenqeeti). According
to van Teijlingen (2014), semi-structured interviewing is an appropriate
methodological process when exploring social attitudes, values and beliefs. A
semi-structured interview is an interview loosely based on a guide of
predetermined open-ended questions which need to be explored by the
interviewer. The order or verbatim wording of questions of the interview guide
may be subject to modification during the course of the semi-structured interview
as novel themes arise (van Teijlingen, 2014). In this way, semi-structured
interviewing “allows depth to be achieved
by providing the opportunity on the part of the interviewer to probe and expand
the interviewee’s responses” (Rubin & Rubin, 2005:88). In addition, the
nature of semi-structured interviewing is more informal and conversation which
enables interviewees to feel more comfortable to disclose more sensitive
information (Rhodes, 2017).

 

This
research project aims to conduct a series of interviews with slum tourists to
elicit how they interpret narratives of poverty both before and after
undertaking a tour of Dharavi. These interviews will begin before the slum tour
with focus on the politics of interpretation with questions regarding tourists’
prior conceptions of poverty and their motivations for going on a slum tour.

Following the completion of a slum tour, a series of follow-up questions will
focus on the politics of representation and how slum tour operators represent
poverty. A final set of questions regarding how the imaginaries of poverty
consumed on the slum tour had influenced the tourists’ perceptions of poverty
will be asked. In addition, it would be interesting to see if any of the slum
tourists questioned the representations of poverty which they had consumed on
the tour. All interviews will be recorded and later transcribed which enables
the interviewer to directly focus on the content of the interview (Jamshed,
ref). 

 

Whilst
it is accepted that interviewing is the most widely utilised method within the
qualitative paradigm, researchers should remain conscious of a few of its
limitations. Firstly, researchers should remember that interview responses will
be shaped by the questions asked and by what they believe the interviewer wants
to hear (Hammersley & Gomm, 2008 – in alqaheeti). As such, an interview may
construct a form of ‘reality’ which may differ significantly from the truth,
leading Walford (2007- in alqaheeti) to postulate that “interviews alone are an insufficient form of data to study social life”
(ibid:147). In addition, interviewing tends to generate large amounts of data which
needs to be transcribed and coded, and thus has often been criticised as an
extremely time-consuming process (Robson, 2002 – in alqaheeti).

 

A
high standard of reflexive ethical consideration should be maintained
throughout the interviewing process from the data collection stage to the data
analysis stage. Firstly, interviewees must first provide informed consent
before any communication can proceed. Furthermore, interviewees should be
informed that they have the right to withdraw from participating in the
research project at any time. It is also necessary that interviewees are given
the opportunity at the end of the interview to raise comments and ask any
questions they may have about the research (Talmy, 2010 – in alqaheeti). Finally,
Cohen et al (2007) note that a particular ethical challenge of the qualitative
interview is when in an atmosphere of openness, interviewees disclose sensitive
information which they may later regret. In this way, it is also imperative to
ensure that all data collected from interviews will be anonymised and kept
strictly confidential.