Published: June 2017

The contemporary period has seen the emergence of a society where interviews are pervasive: the ‘interview society’ (Atkinson and Silverman, 1997). Undertaking qualitative research within this ‘interview society’ has methodological implications for our understanding of the significance of the technology of the interview itself and the analysis of interview data. To date little attention has been afforded to either participants’ accounts of interviews or ethnographic study of the significance of the practice of interviewing for participants. Drawing on data of this kind we develop the existing literature by evidencing the disruptiveness of interviewing and the biographical work that underpins the production of interview data. We provide a rare illustration of what isn’t always on display for the researcher conducting interviews. Namely, that while we live in an interview society and are familiar with its conventions and customs, interviews can breach the routine meaning making and situated action that characterises daily life.

Keywords
accounts, biographical interviews, ethnography, interviews, interview society, moral presentation of self, narratives, welfare state