Semi-Structured Non-Elite Interviews: Public Perception of an Ongoing International Crisis


In 2012–2013, I conducted more than 50 semi-structured interviews with students in the United Kingdom and Russia about their understanding of the Arab Spring events unraveling at the time. My purpose was to explore public perception of an ongoing international crisis, and particularly observe how distant and largely uncertain events were interpreted by the general public. Although attitudes to the Arab uprisings among the British and Russian public were mostly opposite, in-depth semi-structured interviews enabled me to discover common factors behind public interpretation of international crises that other methods would overlook. This case study addresses the challenges of conducting non-elite semi-structured interviews and the added value of using this methodology as part of a mixed-method package to explore public perception of international crises and more generally, public opinion in politics.

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