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Cyber-Mothers: Online Synchronous Interviewing using Conferencing Software

Henrietta O'Connor and Clare Madge
Sociological Research Online 5 (4) oconnor

Abstract: The potential of the Internet as a valuable methodological tool for social science research is increasingly being recognised. This paper contributes to the debate surrounding virtual synchronous interviews and the value of online research. Specifically it introduces the use of a software conferencing technique - Hotline Connect - and discusses the implications of using the technique for Internet-based research. In particular issues of interview design, developing rapport, the role of insiders and outsiders in the research process, language use and the virtual interface are considered. The paper draws on the experience of a recent research project entitled 'Cyberparents' and concludes that the use of conferencing software holds great potential for synchronous online interviewing. However, this must be combined with sensitive, ethical handling of both the research process and the data to overcome both the weaknesses of this particular method and those inherent in any interviewing situation.

Ordinary Lives: 'Typical Stories' of Girls' Transitions in the 1960s and the 1980s

John Goodwin and Henrietta O'Connor
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 4

Abstract: Since 2000 we have been engaged in restudies of transitions projects from the 1960s and 1980s and we have used historic data to problematise past experiences of school to work to question assumptions around complexity and linearity. Yet, in our own analyses, we have perhaps followed too closely the dominant transition discourses, concentrating only on those young people for whom transitions were not straightforward thus privileging the non-linear and complex at the expense of those who had largely unremarkable education and early work experiences. In doing so we have missed important lessons located in the life stories of the previously 'ordinary kids' in these past studies. In this paper, we seek to build upon the work of Roberts (2011) and France (2007), by returning to our own school to work restudies with two main aims in mind. First, we consider the emergent notions of 'ordinary' and 'unspectacular' transitions in the context of past studies of youth. We reflect critically on the concept the 'ordinary' and consider 'typicality' as an alternative. Second, we use data, in the form of eight vignettes, from Adjustment of Young Workers to Work Situations and Adult Roles (1962) and Young Adults in the Labour Market (1983), to develop our understanding of the ordinary or typical in the lived realities of the transitions of girls in one labour market (Leicester) from the 1960s and 1980s. We conclude the paper by reflecting upon what lessons can be learnt from those who made seemingly ordinary transitions during past periods of economic change and transformation.