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Communicating interviews: The experience of research with minority ethnic older people in Britain

Chih Sin (Matrix Research and Consultancy Ltd.)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Interviewing minority ethnic older people can seem daunting. It is easy for stereotypical views of minority ethnic groups and of older people to lead to pathologising approaches being adopted unwittingly. This article attempts to illuminate several key aspects of conducting interviews with such population groups by drawing partially on the experience of working on a Growing Older project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Britain. This project looked at the social network and social support of older people from different ethnic groups in Britain and the relationship between these and their quality of life. The research instrument comprised both structured and unstructured components. Interviews were conducted by a multi‐ethnic team of interviewers speaking a range of community languages. By focussing attention on the interactional nature of interviewing, this article explicates the process of conducting research. Issues pertaining to the choice of language, the use of interpreters, ethnic matching of interviewers and interviewees, the use of standardised instruments and the interview itself as a tool for data‐generation are examined. This article contends that a reflexive approach to methodology can lead to a more robust approach to data by confronting the practical, methodological and ethical issues encountered in doing research with such population groups. The issues raised are not merely in terms of ‘white’ researchers working with ‘non‐white’ respondents, but relate to the improvement of research practice in general regardless of the ethnic background of researcher and respondent.



Sin, C. (2004), "Communicating interviews: The experience of research with minority ethnic older people in Britain", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 21-29.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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