Shift in power during an interview situation: methodological reflections inspired by Foucault and Bourdieu

Authors


Correspondence: Lena Aléx, RNT, PhD, Department of Nursing, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.
E-mail: lena.alex@nurs.umu.se

Abstract

This paper presents methodological reflections on power sharing and shifts of power in various interview situations. Narratives are said to be shaped by our attempts to position ourselves within social and cultural circumstances. In an interview situation, power can be seen as something that is created and that shifts between the interviewer and the interviewed. Reflexivity is involved when we as interviewers attempt to look at a situation or a concept from various perspectives. A modified form of discourse analysis inspired by subject positioning was used to reflect on power relations in four different interview situations. The analyses indicate that reflection on the power relations can lead to other forms of understanding of the interviewee. The main conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that power relations are created within an interview situation and therefore it is important to be aware of dominant perspectives. Researchers and nurses face the challenge of constantly raising their level of consciousness about power relationships, and discursive reflexivity is one way of doing this. Thus, reflexivity is an important part of the qualitative research process.

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