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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a method of sociological research in the form of a purposeful conversation between an interviewer and a subject. Interviews are divided into two classes: free (in-depth, clinical, or focused) and standardized (formalized).

A free interview takes the form of a prolonged informal discussion in which the interviewer’s questions are guided by the ultimate aims of the research. A free interview is often a first stage in working up a standardized interview or questionnaire and a test of the acceptability of the questions and of the information potential of the answers. In such cases the interviewer is often a researcher.

The standardized interview is similar to a questionnaire in form, but the content and form of the questions are crucially affected by the particular way in which the answers are received—“face to face” with the interviewer. The use of questionnaires is less expensive than the standardized interview, but sociology must employ the latter in cases where the questioning is of great importance and there is doubt whether all the questions will be properly understood; for example, in certain regions census takers use the standardized interviewing method.

The difference between interviewing and other methods of gathering empirical social information is the active mutual effect of interviewer and subject, which radically reduces the reliability of results in comparison with the anonymous questionnaire. Often the answers of the subject are inspired by some prejudice or bias, for example, against the age or outward appearance of the interviewer. For this reason interviewing is the most complicated method of social investigation and is considered more of an “art” than a standard technical method.


Andreeva, G. M. Sovremennaia burzhuaznaia empiricheskaia sotsiologiia. Moscow, 1965.
Iadov, V. A. Metodologiia i protsedury sotsiologicheskikh issledovanii. Tartu, 1968.
Zdravomyslov, A. G. Metodologiia i protsedury sotsiologicheskikh issledovanii. Moscow, 1969.
Novikov, N. V. “Spetsifika i problemy intervu’iu kak tekhniki is-sledovaniia.” In the collection Sotsial’nye issledovaniia, issue 5. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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