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Listening to people's stories: the use of narrative in qualitative interviews

Approximately fifty years ago, in 1956, Benney and Hughes stated that ‘Sociology has become the science of the interview … by and large the sociologist in North America, and in a slightly less degree in other countries has become an interviewer. The interview is his tool; his work bears the mark of it’ (Benney and Hughes, 1956: 137). In this editorial preface to a special volume of the American Journal of Sociology , dedicated to sociology and the interview, Benney and Hughes argued that interviews had become not only the means which sociologists used to find out about the world, but also the object of enquiry . They suggested that sociology could appropriately be understood as the science of the interview in the deep sense that sociology was concerned with social interaction and that the interview, as a form of social interaction, was therefore ‘not merely a tool of sociology ...

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