chapter  1
16 Pages

The Interview as a Form of Talking-partnership: Dialectical, Focussed, Ambiguous, Special

WithNigel Rapport

There is a fundamental form to the interview, indeed to any conversation or dialogue, comprising a to-ing and fro-ing of utterances or responses. Alvin Gouldner observed, in a seminal article, that reciprocity is distinct from complementarity. Complementarity is when the utterances of the talking-partners proceed by way of an equivalency less similar in form. Zijderveld describes modern society as a ‘clichegenic condition’ inasmuch as clichés come to form the major component of individual consciousness. Finally, distortion figures too when Mr Taylor interrupts his own narrative ow by remembering presence as his audience: ‘But am I boring you? I’m probably boring silly’; ‘Doctor” after all means teacher’. The special significance of the interview as a research tool may be the light it shines—a kind of snapshot—on the workings of everyday exchange. And the complexities of these symbolic forms-in-use and their ambiguities may be the most significant insight.