Interviewing Pairs: Discussions on Migration and Identity


This article examines a research method of conducting interviews with pairs of individuals, who may be friends or relatives. The authors critically reflect on their experiences of collecting qualitative data in an interview with two respondents. While one-on-one interviews and focus groups are more established and well-studied forms of gathering research data, we argue that paired interviews as a data collections method present additional advantages as well as some challenges for qualitative researchers. The researchers embraced the opportunity to interview pairs of individuals with the intention of minimising the asymmetry of power habitually inherent in interview situations. In the authors' experiences, paired interviews served to empower those being interviewed and reduced the discomfort felt by some in the personal interview situation. This form of interviewing tended to give more autonomy to the respondents and prompted them to provide more nuanced responses. Paired interviews assisted respondents in feeling relaxed and comfortable, provided a vibrant environment that encouraged respondents to build on each other's ideas and enabled them to enhance each other's stories. Respondents were better motivated to build discussions around an interview question and then illustrate their responses with examples. In our studies, we found that our respondents tended to offer more thorough and comprehensive narratives in the setting of a paired interview.

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