Examine the reasons why some sociologists choose to use structured interviews when conducting research (20 marks)
Sociologists use different types of interviews in their research, these ranging from completely structures to completely unstructured interviews. The difference between them lies in how free the interviewer is to vary the questions and how they are asked.
A structured interview involves one person asking another person a list of predetermined questions about a carefully-selected topic. The person asking the questions ("the interviewer") is allowed to explain things the interviewee (or "respondent" - the person responding to the questions) does not understand or finds confusing. Moreover structured interviews are like questionnaires; the interviewer is given strict instructions on how to ask the questions. The interview is conducted in the same way each time, asking each interviewee precisely the same questions, word for word, in the same order and tone of voice.
Both a questionnaire and structured interviews involve asking people a set of prepared questions. In both cases, the questions are usually closed-ended with pre-coded answers. The main difference is that in the interview, the questions are read out and the answers are filled in by a trained interviewer rather than by the interviewee. There are many practical advantages for the use of a structured interview for example training interviewers is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, since all they really required to do is follow a set of instructions. Moreover surveys that use structured interviews can cover quite large numbers of people with relatively limited resources because they are quick and fairly cheap to administer.
Structured interviews are suitable for gathering straightforward factual information such as a person's job or age. Finally the results are easily quantified because they use close-ended questions with coded answers; this makes them suitable for hypothesis...