Difficult Moments in the Ethnographic Interview: Vulnerability, Silence and Rapport
This chapter offers the author reflection upon a difficult and challenging moment in one of his own ethnographic interviews in a study exploring how narratives of risk and trust are constructed by sufferers and lay caregivers of myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome. As researchers, part of our ethical duty of care in the qualitative research interview is to prevent harm to our participants. The interaction in the qualitative interview has often been described as a conversation. The methodological advice implicit in the Miller and Tewksbury definition and other more explicit advice about how a ‘good interviewer’ should behave in order to ‘get’ the ‘best’ data is what Rapley describes as a methodological ‘gloss’ of the ideals of rapport and neutrality. Sinding and Aronson both give an account of a research project that describes how what they call ‘interview factors may intersect with political and discursive surrounds in order to produce ‘vulnerability’ on the part of their participants.