Structured and Unstructured Interviews

Some sociologists argue that society can be studied objectively and empirically using various methods of investigation and critical analysis, to develop knowledge about human social activity, structures, and functions.   The methodology used by sociologists to gather this information, include the use of primary and secondary data.   The information gathered can then be analysed so that their sociological theories and hypothesis may be tested, accepted or rejected.   In this work we will discuss the advantage and disadvantages of interviews. Interviews are a form of oral or written interactions and are a primary research method.   There are a number of types e.g. structured, unstructured (informal), semi-structured and focus group interviews. The main focus of this assignment will be on the usefulness of structured and unstructured interviews only.
Structured interviews give quantitative data (data in words) and are preferred by positivitists (Marxist, functionalist and feminists) because they satisfy the positivist need for establishing correlations and measuring the social reality, which, they believe, exists ‘out there’.   Positivists contend that the data from structured interviews is reliable, replicable and representative. The structured interview is similar to a questionnaire; it contains mainly closed ended questions, the results of which are easily quantified (tallied, numbered, counted). A researcher is present when the structured interview is being conducted.  

Unstructured interviews are sometimes known as informal interviews. As the name suggests they have no preset questions.   The interview develops like a conversation.   They give qualitative (data in words) and are preferred by interpretivists (symbolic interactivitists, phenomenologists and ethnomethodlogists) because the data produced are high in validity

Structured interviews are favored by Positivists, such as Marxists and Functionalists as they believe that human behavior is determined by social...