Monday, October 1, 2012

Dissertation on shame. Chapter 12.0 Active interviewing

12.0 Active interviewing

The study which my PhD dissertation is based upon consists of an exploration of the concept and phenomenon of shame carried out by interviewing 16 women and three men from the Incest Centre in Vestfold, most of who were sexually abused as children. They were interviewed in five focus groups (Bloor et al 2001; Litosseliti 2003) and four of the respondents were also interviewed in in-depth interviews (Lincoln and Guba 1985) after the interviews in the focus groups were completed. All the interviews were conducted using the techniques of active interviewing (Holstein and Gubrium 1995). The intention of this section is to reflect upon the process and results of active interviewing from a constructivist perspective, using the group conversation mentioned above as an illustration.

The theme of this exploration is the concept and phenomenon of shame. I am concerned with how the concept is used and understood and how it manifests itself as a phenomenon. Shame can be investigated in many other ways, which I have not included in my exploration. A few of these possible research alternatives are; the functional anatomy of shame in the human brain through neuroscience (Franks 2006), the relationship between shame and evolution as described in evolutionary biology and social evolution (Darwin 1872/2007; Wilson 1975/2000; Hammond 2006), shame as a biological affect (Buck 1999), the role of shame in psychological disorders (Freud and Breuer 1895/2004; Tompkins 1963/2008; Lewis 1971), the relationship between shame and sex, gender, power and status (Kaufman and Raphael 1996; Shields, Garner, Leone and Hadley 2006), the relationship between shame and other self-conscious affects like guilt and pride (Tangney and Dearing 2002), the connection between shame and violence in destructive conflicts (Scheff and Retzinger 1991), shame and racial discrimination (Harvey and Oswald 2000), shame and culture (Lutwak, Razziono and Ferrari 1998; Bedford 2004; Ho, Fu and Ng 2004; Thonney, Kanachi, Sasaki and Hatayama 2006), shame and socialization (Cole, Tamang and Shrestha 2006), and shame as a political, existential and emotional state (Seu 2006).

These examples illustrate the large variation in the field of shame research. Guba and Lincoln (1989) have characterized the different forms of scientific research by using four methods of evaluation; measurement (first generation evaluation), description (second generation evaluation) and judgement (third generation evaluation). The above mentioned examples are all objectively oriented descriptive approaches. I intend to focus on an alternative approach which Guba and Lincoln (1989) call a responsive constructivist evaluation (fourth generation evaluation). It is responsive because the approach is an interactive and negotiated process between the researcher and the respondents, and constructivist because it is concerned with interpretation and hermeneutics (Guba and Lincoln 1989: 38-39). The responsive constructivist paradigm is therefore rather different from the scientific mode which is characterized by measurement, description and judgement. This alternative approach is also called a naturalistic perspective and the method used in the interactive and negotiated process is often called a naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln and Guba 1985). 

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