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PLA Notes CD-ROM 1988-2001 4 The bias of interviews

John Mitchell, Hugo Slim

Journal article

The informal interview is a very accepted medium in our culture but it is not so well understood in rural areas. People often find it a very strange way to communicate. Their surprise at the medium raises important questions about the ‘informal interview’ which is central to many interviewing techniques such as the semi-structured interview, which is used in Rapid Rural Appraisal. As a means of talking and listening to rural people, the informal interview can be an important way of learning from rural people, but one that needs to be better understood by its practitioners. Apart from the many specific problems in interviewing we have experienced an inherent bias in the interview form itself. The very act of interviewing often seems to assume two things.

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