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Home arrow Environment arrow Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches
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PROBING

The key to successful interviewing is learning how to probe effectively—that is, to stimulate a respondent to produce more information, without injecting yourself so much into the interaction that you only get a reflection of yourself in the data. Suppose you ask, ‘‘Have you ever been away from the village to work?’’ and the informant says, ‘‘Yes.’’ The next question (the probe) is: ‘‘Like where?’’ Suppose the answer is, ‘‘Oh, several different places.’’ The correct response is not, ‘‘Pachuca? Queretaro? Mexico City?’’ but, ‘‘Like where? Could you name some of the places where you’ve gone to get work?’’

There are many kinds of probes that you can use in an interview. (In what follows, I draw on the important work by Briggs [1986], Dohrenwend and Richardson [1965], Gor- den [1987], Hyman and Cobb [1975], Kahn and Cannell [1957], Kluckhohn [1945], Merton et al. [1956], Reed and Stimson [1985], Warwick and Lininger [1975], Whyte [1960], Whyte and Whyte [1984], and on my own experience and that of my students.)

 
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