ABSTRACT

Feminist literature has paid little attention to silence as periods of time without speech and differing degrees of other sounds—either in women's experiences, or within qualitative research interviews. The author considers periods of silence in interviews with research participants. She proposes that, far from being a 'problem' inhibiting effective data collection, when researchers allow space for silence in the interaction between themselves and participants these silences can facilitate the emergence of valuable new knowledge for the researcher and greater self-knowledge for participants. The author explores how paying attention to interview silences throughout all stages of the research process, from transcribing to representation of data, can further enhance understanding of the subject being investigated. She illustrates the potential of interview silence by drawing on her own qualitative research exploring spiritual disciplines of silence among Christian women.