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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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6

Oral History Interviews

Advantages and Challenges of Employing Oral History Interviewing as Part of a Research Project

Mike Conway

ABSTRACT

This chapter focuses on oral history as a method that allows scholars to record and preserve the thoughts and remembrances of people and groups that may previously not have been heard. It is an empowering method, as it demands a personal connection with the subject and the realization that the interview is a collaborative process. The chapter starts with a discussion of the history of oral history as a research method, which started as an added element in historical research and evolved into the central component in memory studies. It also provides practical information for conducting oral history interviews, from working with a university's human subjects committee, finding subjects, recording audio or video, to strategies on how best to tap into those important memories. Finally, it explores analytic strategies for incorporating the interviews into academic research.

Oral history is an empowering research method in media studies. Through oral history, researchers record and preserve the thoughts and remembrances of people and groups who may previously have had little chance to have their voices heard. “Human beings individually as well as collectively make the decisions that change history,” according to Valerie Yow (2008, p. 186): “We want to know why they made these decisions, how they made them, and even how the got to that point.” ...

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