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Semi-Structured Elite Interviews With U.S. Presidential Speechwriters in Interdisciplinary Research on Politics and Performance

Case
By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Political Science and International Relations
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Abstract

This case study details my experience of conducting semi-structured elite interviews with presidential speechwriters in the United States for an interdisciplinary research project on politics and performance. The case study explores the rationale behind the choice to conduct interviews and the ways in which the interviews intersected with the study’s theoretical work. Particular attention is paid to the process of recruiting elite interviewees and preparing for elite interviews. I explore the advantages and disadvantages of targeted emailing and chain referral as recruitment techniques and discuss how to get around pre-set narratives elite interviewees might be trying to impart to the interviewer to get more spontaneous, less contrived responses to interview questions. The case also addresses the vexed question of sample size in qualitative interviews. I explore the concept of “theoretical saturation” and discuss how one might judge a corpus of qualitative interviews to be saturated.

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