Beyond the existence proof: ontological conditions, epistemological implications, and in-depth interview research

Authored by DPDF 2010 Discrimination Studies co-director, Samuel R. Lucas

In-depth interviewing is a promising method. Alas, traditional in-depth interview sample designs prohibit generalizing. Yet, after acknowledging this limitation, in-depth interview studies generalize anyway. Generalization appears unavoidable; thus, sample design must be grounded in plausible ontological and epistemological assumptions that enable generalization. Many in-depth interviewers reject such designs. The paper demonstrates that traditional sampling for in-depth interview studies is indefensible given plausible ontological conditions, and engages the epistemological claims that purportedly justify traditional sampling. The paper finds that the promise of in-depth interviewing will go unrealized unless interviewers adopt ontologically plausible sample designs. Otherwise, in-depth interviewing can only provide existence proofs, at best.

Title
Beyond the existence proof: ontological conditions, epistemological implications, and in-depth interview research
Author
Lucas, Samuel R.
Published
Springer Publications
ISBN
1573-7845
On the web
Citation
"Beyond the existence proof: ontological conditions, epistemological implications, and in-depth interview research," , Lucas, Samuel R. in Quality & Quantity, ed. (Springer Publications), http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11135-012-9775-3.