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Managing dignity and managing stigma in the interview encounter: the challenge of paid for participation

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The interview is both popular and problematic in social research. In this article, we describe and make problematic interviews from a study conducted with impoverished elders in Melbourne, Australia. Participants were paid $20 for each of two interviews. The result of the paid-for participation was double-edged in that it provided funds for impoverished participants, but the payment modified the exchange of free and open discussion. We describe key exchanges within the research interviews to exemplify how participants managed their experience and presentation of stigma and dignity. We demonstrate, with examples from the transcripts, strategies used by participants to gain agency over the process, while at the same time maintain enough of a semblance of conversational genre to make paid-for participation legitimate. We see this as an interesting methodological event that should inform analysis, interpretations, and the validity of interviews, rather than a problem with the interviewee
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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