9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Research Relations and Ethical Issues Building II, C2.01

We, You and I: Interviewing Same Sex Couples Together and Apart

This paper explores key practical and ethical issues which arise from interviewing couples. It does so by discussing an interview based qualitative study among sex couples who have entered into Civil Partnership. The study, entitled Just Like Marriage? Young Couple?s Civil Partnerships, is funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council.
To date, most couple studies derive from joint or separate interviews with heterosexual partners. This approach has largely been taken to counteract gender inequalities in interview settings and to keep labour costs under control. In our study, we interviewed couples together and then separately. This allowed for the production of individual and collaborative narratives of relationships, but also raised distinctive practical and ethical issues.
The paper explores the possibilities and challenges offered by our method with respect to these practical and ethical issues - and especially with respect to issues of power, loyalty, confidentiality and trust.
The paper concludes by suggesting that in moving beyond the conventional methodology of 'couple studies', our study points to a alternative way of exploring couple relationships: One that is not without its challenges, but that allows for a fuller exploration of the complexity of contemporary relationships.