Publication Details

Lyons, LT & Chipperfield, J, (De)Constructing the Interview: A Critique of the Participatory Method, Resources for Feminist Research/Documentation sur la Recherche Feministe, 2000, 28(1/2), 33-48. Journal information is available here.


Feminist approaches to the use of interviewing emphasise the importance of building rapport with respondents in order to achieve a successful research outcome. This ‘participatory model’ is concerned with addressing power differentials between researcher and researched and thus producing non-hierarchical, non-manipulative research relationships. We argue that the continued centring of rapport as a key interview strategy ignores both the nature of power relationships within the interview, as well as interviewee subjectivity. Drawing on our own experiences of interviewing we examine the ways in which both interviewer and interviewee are placed along intersecting axes of power. An analysis of the complex ways in which power operates within interviews shows us that interviewees are active participants in the creation of “the interview”. Simply admonishing the interviewer to establish rapport ignores how the interviewee sees the interview, what she wishes to achieve, and how she will present herself. In contrast, focusing on the ‘constructed’ nature of the interview moment allows us to see how the interview as practice mediates the respondent’s construction of her/self.