Doing interviews on potentially sensitive issues with young people and their parents
Department of Sociology University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
This paper will examine some of the methodological issues involved in using qualitative approach to study intergenerational transmission of inequalities. The paper is based on my research in which I focus on the classed and gendered transitions, imaginable prospects and actual choices of ninth graders. The specific group I am interested in are the participants of six multiprofessional Helsinki-based services offering support for young people to complete comprehensive school and/or to prevent marginalization. Many of these 15-17-year old young people have a history of poor school achievement, truanting, delinquent behaviour and/or abuse of intoxicants. The biographical interviews I have conducted with both the young people and with their parents/caretakers are analyzed to investigate what kind of inter-generational changes or continuities can be traced in the young people's lives and orientations to the future.
In this presentation the main focus will be on reflexive analysis of the data production. The key themes that will be discussed are those of advantages and limits or qualitative approach in studying intergenerational transmission of inequalities as well as accountability and ethics in relation to access and informed consent. Further, the presentation will examine what kinds of implications do the contexts - projects offering support for young people 'at risk' - have for recruiting the informants and for making the interviews.