Tag Archives: Alison Pugh

Interviewing and the Sociology of Past and Future

At the American Sociological Association meeting in San Francisco last month, I attended two panels that were oriented in very different directions conceptually and methodologically but that together generated some interesting questions. The first panel was a critique and defense of interviewing as a method. The impetus for the panel was Shamus Khan’s recent article, which argued that interviews, as opposed to ethnography, were unsuited to uncovering the causes or motives of action. As Howard Becker remarked in his introductory comments, the general thrust of the critique was not new. Both Alford Young and Alison Pugh were invited to respond to Khan and identified important ways that interviews could add to sociological understanding even if they could not replace other methods. Even if interviews cannot uncover causal forces, they at least access something telling about social life. Continue reading