The ‘Inter-Vey'. Towards the Conversational Survey

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 416
Oral Presentation
Giampietro GOBO , university of milan, milan, Italy
For decades, the dilemma between open-ended and closed-ended response alternatives occupied the methodological debate. Over the years, dominant approaches in survey have reacted to this dilemma by opting for fixed response alternatives and the standardization of interviewer’s behavior. If this methodological decision has been the survey’s fortune, making it the methodology most widely used in the social sciences, however it produces a large amount of biases well known in the literature: misunderstanding of the response alternatives by the interviewees, the multiple word meanings of response alternatives due the communicative functions of quantifiers, the invented opinions (or lies) phenomenon, the influence of the response alternatives on formation of the judgment, social desirability effects, the yea-saying and response set phenomena, etc..

In order to remedy these biases an alternative proposal can be designed by re-discovering and adapting two “old” proposals: Likert’s technique called “fixed question/free answers” (1940s), and Galtung’s (1967) procedure named “open question/closed answer”. Both procedures are guided by the same discursive principles: make the interview into a conversation, let the interviewee answer freely in his/her own words, and thus release him/her from the researcher’s schemes, making an “interviewee-centered” survey.

These principles have been recently blended in an innovative technique for collecting survey data, which has been named “inter-vey” (Gobo and Mauceri 2014), blending in-depth and survey interview (or unstructured & structured interview). “Inter-vey” is based on the idea of the “conversationalzing survey” (Schober and Conrad 1997; Maynard and Schaffer 2002, Gobo 2011).

An experimentation (and a procedural example) of this technique will be presented.