Moving beyond the ‘official story’: when ‘others’ meet in a qualitative interview

Dorit Roer-Strier*, Roberta G. Sands

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This article examines the qualitative interview as a site for meetings between interviewers and interviewees from groups that are in conflict. It shows how interviewees who initially resisted participation and voiced what one called the ‘official story’ of her group moved beyond this position enabling the encounter to become a meaningful experience for both parties. This critical case analysis is based on three interviews from three different studies and follow-up interviews with interviewers and interviewees. The paper describes six phases of the encounters found in all the interviews (on guard, the ‘official story’, expert position, confrontation, looking for common grounds, and beyond the ‘official story’) and explores the conditions that brought about bidirectional communication and intimacy. The findings are discussed in light of current debates around reflexivity, positionality, and power relations in qualitative interviewing. The article highlights the importance of the historical and political contexts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)251-268
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.


  • conflict
  • critical case
  • othering
  • positionality
  • power relations
  • qualitative interview
  • reflexivity


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