Interviews and analysis

In my previous post I attempted to position my research within the social constructionist framework and map out my thinking. Recently I have been digging down to a deeper methodological area, exploring the importance of interviews and analysis.

In some ways this is work I should have done prior to conducting my data collection. And I can’t say I didn’t try, but my thinking was just not yet that advanced.  I mentioned to my supervisor last (physical) meeting that I can now see things (like understanding what theoretical or conceptual models inform articles) that I just could see a year ago.  While I probably did read up on interviews an analysis before I didn’t really absorb the ideas, because I had no frame of reference to put them in. Now,having undertaken 40 interviews and got a bit smarter in the last 12 months things are starting to make sense.

Yesterday I tried to explain to my supervisor how my methodological approach captures narrative of of, and contributes to the formation of, leadership identity. (For the record I think my new research question relates to the formation of leadership identity, I just haven’t nutted the words out yet.)  I mocked up a little diagram that shows how the interaction between myself, the primary and secondary subjects works.  In each shaded area narrative about leadership are created and leadership identity is formed through them. (And I’m attempting to overlay this diagram on the Kempster model to show how I’m exploring theory through my methodology.)


The social constructionist view I’m taking means I’m interested in how the primary subject creates leadership meaning, how they do so in interaction with secondary subjects and how they do so with me. What is clear in this is that my role is crucial. I cannot avoid considering my own view of leadership, and the formation of my own leadership identity.

This flows on to my view of what interviews are.  They are not a collection of facts, but a process that involves the interviewer (me) as much as the respondent (Kohler-Reissman).  Consequently I must incorporate questions into the analysis process (Rapley). The interviews are a personal narrative as politcal praxis (Langellier) – that is they demonstrate the way the world is seen, by me and by the respondent. I need to address the potential for fragmentation and connect interviews to sociocultural meanings, and in some way the secondary respondents are triangulating this notion of meaning.

I’ve been thinking about the differences between my visual arts and theatre groups.  I realise now I framed my conference paper (to be given next week) incorrectly. I should have shown how the narratives within each interview demonstrate a different contextual view for the participants, that shape their leadership identity formation.  They uniquely see their context  – one as aggressive an competitive, one as collaborative and nurturing –  even though they are likely facing the same economic challenges (for example.)

What this thinking has lead me to is the  realisation that not defining leadership in the interviews allowed for respondents to shape their own version through their dialogue with me. How they engage shows what their perception is. A bit of a lucky break there as it was defined by gut feel.

I still have a lot of questions, some of which will unfold in data analysis stage.  My supervisor raised the question of what I will learn from secondary participants and how that differs from what I’m learning from primary, and importantly, how am I viewing them differently. A good question, I hadn’t thought of.

Today I starting putting chunks of writing together to start shaping my methodological chapter.  Far from starting with a black piece of paper I actually have about 10,000 from my stage one, blog post and a draft context chapter.  That’s without even getting into the interview and analysis information here and my proposed plan of work.  It’s daunting, but not in the way I expected, it will test my ability to ‘kill my darlings’ as much as write new content.

But I’m very happy where my thinking is right now, and with my new, light, highly organised study space in Melbourne. It’s good to be home.


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