Swiss Summer School 2002

Max Bergman: Qualitative Interviewing

Max Bergman

Max Bergman is a lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge and a researcher at the University of Geneva. He holds an M.A. from the University of Geneva and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He has previously taught courses and workshops on empirical research methods at the Universities of Cambridge, Geneva, and Zurich. He also teaches at the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis and Collection. His research interests include empirical research methods, especially the overlap between qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as reliability and validity issues relating to interpretative methods, and, substantively, the links between attitudes, values, and ideology, as well as the links between intergroup relations and gender/ethnic/national identity.

Workshop contents and objectives

The aim of this workshop is to examine in detail different aspects of interview strategies and data analysis techniques, including: the variations, possibilities, and limits of interviewing techniques; examination of assumptions and biases with respect to the interview process, especially sampling and reporting biases; construction of an interview schedule from a research question; question and interview schedule design; reliability and validity issues relating to the interviewing process; analysis of interview material, with an emphasis on interpretative methods, namely content and discourse analysis; strategies of reporting research results from interviews for scientific and other professional publications.

Throughout the week, daily exercises on how to collect and analyse interview material will be an important part of the lectures. The participants are furthermore invited to bring their own data to the summer school, and will have a chance to discuss and work on their project during the course.


Basic text/overview
Berg, B.L. (1995). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Denzin, N. & Y. Lincoln (Eds.)(1994). Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

Foddy, W. (1993). Constructing questions for interviews and questionnaires: Theory, and practice in social research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


No particular prerequisites are required. However, a background in any of the social sciences and preparatory readings are highly recommended (see bibliography).