Sunday, 7 January 2007

Sunday Transcript Blues

Oh woe is me. CBC has been hogging the main computer all day for “revision”. Funny, I never knew Urban 75 was a recognised resource for 19th century American literature.

As a consequence I’m exiled to the scullery and condemned to sweat over a couple of transcripts that should have been typed up weeks and weeks ago. Well, just a smidgen fewer than 7,000 words later and they’re done. All so I can use a paragraph each for my upcoming paper in Newcastle. So, I say you out there in blogland better show your appreciation in the comments box for soldiering on to bring you this here post. Otherwise I might just cry.

Going out to cafes, bars and pubs to interview socialists is by far the easiest and most pleasurable part of my research. For a notorious sectarian like me, talking to other sectarians about sects and sectariana is nothing short of bliss!

There’s always a downside and my comedown is way intense. The aim is to interview each respondent over a 4 week period. The first interview gets the rapport going as my interviewee/victim talks about their family background, time in education, jobs and how they came to be radicalised and when their involvement with the Socialist Workers’ Party or the Socialist Party began. The second (a week later) discusses the experience of being a member in some depth, looking at how membership has affected the respondent’s life in terms of career choices, family, friendships, and relationships along with the activist experience itself. This is where we also talk about experiences with activists from other left groups and campaigning organisations. (The amount of material from interviewees so far could constitute a chapter in itself, and a it would be a well-thumbed one if what I know about leftist narcissism is true!)

The race is then on to get these two sets of transcripts done and sent back to the interviewee. Now these transcripts are big. A typical 90 minute session weighs in at 8,000 - 9,000 words. That’s a lot of typing. However there is method in my, erm, methodological madness.

The close proximity of the life history discussions will, I hope, remain relatively fresh in both our heads. By giving the respondent a week to read and reflect on what has been said, the final interview session can dwell upon matters arising (for both of us); allow for an informed chat about the interview process just undertaken; and, (having basically just read about their life in print) the ethical implications of their story being used to further a career, and creating data that could be useful for the left and its opponents alike.

Once January 20th’s out the way I’ll be hitting the road again, and not stopping until everyone’s done. Easter is the ludicrously ambitious target to get all 60 interviews done and transcribed. Then I might relax … by coding every single one (groan).


Grogoreo said...

Phil if you need any help typing I'm a quick, touch-typer though unless you need to keep things private.

Dorothy said...

nice comment on Jon Rogers' union blog - but sorry to see you are a SP member.
Have you seen the Labour Left Briefing website? ( a link to it would at least broaden the politics of your links!

Phil said...

I might take you up on that Greg - I'll see how things go at first. Btw just to let you know Matt wants to chat to you about various internetty stuff.

And Dorothy, thanks for casting me into the darker recesses of your mind on the basis of my political affiliation! ;)

I'll be renovating the political links some point over this next weeks, perhaps even today if I have enough time.