Dr Ana Manzano: The craft of interviewing in realist evaluation

Interviews are the most widely used method of data collection in social sciences. Benney and Hughes’ (1956) famous quote ‘sociology has become the science of the interview’ is more relevant than ever.

Twenty-first century social researchers have become interviewers; interviews are their tools; and their ‘work bears the mark’ of those interviews (p. 137). Therefore, in evaluation research – most especially in formative, process and development approaches – interviews are frequently the main and only tool to generate data about programme effectiveness.

There is much debate about the conduct of the interview (closed versus open, formal versus informal, etc.) and there is also a rather elaborate embroidery of subtypes and distinctions. One contribution rather ignored – and a significant one for evaluation – is the realist interview. Realist evaluation proposes – among other methods of data collection – the use of theory-driven interviews to ‘inspire/validate/ falsify/modify’ (Pawson, 1996: 295) hypotheses about how programmes and interventions work.

This workshop will provide an overview of how interview techniques have been applied in realist evaluations in the last decade as well as suggesting two guiding principles. The first one relates to the design of realist studies and the second one explains how to ask questions like a realist, and proposes three different phases in realist interviews: theory gleaning, theory refining and theory consolidation.

For more information, please feel free to contact Dr Ana Manzano a.manzano@leeds.ac.uk or the Realism Leeds Team realism@leeds.ac.uk


Location Details

Room 12.21 and 12.25
Social Sciences Building
University of Leeds

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