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Academic Paper


Title: The research interview as a test: Alignment to boundary, topic, and interactional leeway in parental accounts of a child protection procedure
Author: Stef Slembrouck
Institution: Ghent University
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: This article concentrates on how interviewees experience the context of semi-structured or open interviews as a "test," both in terms of being an interviewee and in terms of the roles presupposed in what the interview is about. It invites a reflexive discourse-analytical turn in which we concentrate on the interactional negotiation of various aspects of the interview situation and the interview as an interactional accomplishment. The focus is on the implications for the status of the data that was subsequently obtained, with an eye to locating "the social forces that impress on the ethnographic locale" (Burawoy 1998:15). Insights obtained in this way are argued to bear directly on our understanding of the central research topic under investigation. The data used here have been drawn from a research project on social class and coding orientations in experiential accounts of child protection in Belgium/Flanders. The data base consists of interviews with parent clients. (Data histories, narrative, interview as test, social class, child protection, ethnographic reflexivity)

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This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 40, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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