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The interpretive understanding that can be derived from interviews is highly influenced by methods of data collection, be they structured or semistructured, ethnographic, clinical, life-history or survey interviews. This article responds to calls for research into the interview process by analyzing data produced by two distinctly different types of interview, a semistructured ethnographic interview and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM, conducted with participants in the Navajo Healing Project. We examine how the two interview genres shape the context of researcher-respondent interaction and, in turn, influence how patients articulate their lives and their experience in terms of illness, causality, social environment, temporality and self/identity. We discuss the manner in which the two interviews impose narrative constraints on interviewers and respondents, with significant implications for understanding the jointly constructed nature of the interview process. The argument demonstrates both divergence and complementarity in the construction of knowledge by means of these interviewing methods.

Original publication




Journal article


Cult Med Psychiatry

Publication Date





29 - 55


Adult, Anthropology, Cultural, Causality, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Female, Humans, Interview, Psychological, Male, Middle Aged, Social Environment, Social Identification