Assess the Strengths and Limitations of Unstructured Interviews for Investigating the Effects of Streaming.

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There are a number of strengths and limitations to using unstructured interviews to investigate the effects of streaming. Unstructured interviews are advocated by Anti-Positivists, which was founded by Max Weber. He believed in empathy and using research methods that helped to understand the individual, which he believed was essential to then understand society. Unstructured interviews enables the researcher to ask a variety of open and closed questions to the respondents.

One strength of using this method to investigate streaming is, as stated in Item B, the researcher 'can explore pupils' feelings and reactions'. This ties in with the idea if empathy, as the researcher can build a rapport with the respondents and by using this method is able to talk about sensitive issues. For example by talking to the pupils in the lower band, using unstructured interviews allows the pupil to feel at ease and not judged by the researcher. This may mean the pupil opens up and could explain if they have feelings of low self esteem and why etc. Willis did a study on boys who formed an anti-school subculture. He used different methodologies, one being unstructured interviews. He found unstructured interviews helped him build a relationship with the boys, so they trusted him and would give fairly in depth answers as to their behaviours. This shows unstructured interviews can help to build rapport between respondent and researcher.

However Positivists like Durkeim would argue unstructured interviews lacks objectivity. This means the researcher can become biased towards the respondents and so can make the study biased. Positivists advocate empirical evidence with high objectivity, so their studies don't become biased. Other sociologists would also argue unstructured interviews can be impractical, as the interviews are time consuming and can be costly. Also due to the fact there are open questions, the interview may go off topic, which adds to the time for the researcher to...
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